CowDeexa KhanduriSputnik correspondentIn Hinduism, cows are worshipped and considered sacred animals. Many Indian states have bans on slaughtering cows, and some Muslims have been attacked by fringe Hindu groups claiming to be “cow-vigilantes”.A Muslim van driver was brutally assaulted over the weekend in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh over suspicion of carrying beef and smuggling cows, a media report said on Tuesday.In a viral video shared by activists and journalists, a semi-nude man, identified as Mohammad Amir, can be seen pleading in front of five to six men who are mercilessly beating him with a leather belt and sticks.The district police, who arrived at the venue to rescue the man, told reporters: “The 35-year-old driver Mohammad Amir, and two others were held hostage by a few villagers. They assaulted him over suspicion of ferrying beef and smuggling cows”.Senior police officer M.P. Singh, however, said no cows or beef were being transported in the vehicle. The victim was admitted to hospital.A preliminary police investigation suggests that the vehicle was part of a village cleanliness drive to dispose of carcasses of animals.Meanwhile, 16 people, including some members of the Hindu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), have been named in the official complaint.