Indian police arrest "cow vigilante" accused of inciting religious riots

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Police on Tuesday arrested the leader of a Hindu group that protects cows who was on the run after being accused of inciting Hindu-Muslim violence in India's northern Haryana state, a police official said.

Mohit Yadav, known by his alias Monu Manesar, was arrested for allegedly uploading objectionable and inflammatory posts under a fictitious name on social media before the religious clashes last month, the official said.

Manesar is also accused in a double murder case in neighbouring Rajasthan state.

Seven people were killed and more than 70 injured in rioting in two districts of Haryana that broke out after a Hindu religious procession was targeted and a mosque attacked in retaliation in August.

Manesar heads a unit set up by a hardline Hindu group to protect cows, which are considered sacred by India's Hindu-majority population. The so-called "cow vigilantes" often attack people accused of killing or smuggling the animals for meat.

Two days before the religious procession, Manesar released a video saying he would attend the religious event and he appealed to other Hindus to join him.

Police said the video angered Muslims who then targeted the procession because Manesar is named in a case regarding the lynching of two Muslim men in February this year on the pretext that they were smuggling cows.

Manesar is being held in custody pending further investigations.

(Reporting by Rupam Jain; Editing by Angus MacSwan)