Isar Mohammad, 26, was tied to a pole, tortured and beaten to death in New Delhi on Tuesday. He had been accused of taking some prasad (food offerings) and Rs 20 (20p) from a pile of offerings made by devotees of the Hindu deity Ganesha at a temporary installation during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.
In a graphic video purporting to show the incident that went viral on social media, five men can be seen beating Isar as he cries out in pain, pleading for them to stop.
Police said Isar had been unable to explain himself or reason with temple officials because he had a mental disability.
“He was cold like a dead body when he was brought back to our house. Seeing him like that, I too died with him,” his sister Umrana Mohammad told news portal The Quint.
The incident came to light after his father Abdul Wajid informed the police on Tuesday night, shortly after Isar succumbed to his injuries. The family said he was not a thief and had picked up the food from the offering because he was hungry.
The authorities have registered a murder case in the matter and arrested seven people, including Kamal, 23, his brother Manoj, 19, Yunus, 20, Kishan, 19, Pappu, Lucky, a food stall owner, and a 17-year-old who has not been named, reported the outlet.
A police official on the condition of anonymity told The Quint that there was no religious motivation for the crime.
“The accused claimed that around 5am, they caught Isar lurking around the area and thought that he was a thief,” Joy N Tirkey, a top police official, was quoted as saying by The Indian Express newspaper.
“They asked him questions but he was unable to reply properly since he was mentally challenged. They then tied him to an electric pole and thrashed him.”
The victim’s father told police that Isar was lying outside the house and writhing in pain, with injury marks all over his body, when he was found. He was brought home by one of their neighbours and died from his injuries shortly after, reported the Press Trust of India.
A post mortem report showed blunt-force injuries all over the victim’s body, including his head, back, arms and legs, reported The Indian Express citing a police source. The cause of death was said to be “shock and haemorrhage”.