“He was not doing anything illegal,” Mr. Islam said. “If he was doing anything illegal, they should have handed him over to the police. Why did they kill him? My son was innocent, and the other boy was innocent.”
Jaynal Abidin, chief of the village, said neither of the teenagers had a criminal record.
News footage showed the two lying in a field, surrounded by men carrying sticks and belts. Police officers arrived on the scene and took the youths to a government hospital nearby.
One was dead on arrival and the other died minutes after arriving, said Pinaki Chakraborty, a police officer who took the two to the hospital.
Dr. Devajit Medhi, who attended to the victims, said they had injuries to their heads, stomachs and legs, and were bleeding profusely. He said it appeared the two had been beaten with blunt objects.
Over the last two years, Muslims in India have been attacked in a series of similar episodes, often by “cow protection” groups who said they had caught Muslims transporting the animals, legally or illegally. Hindus consider cows sacred, and they have sometimes accused Muslims of killing the animals.
Mr. Upadhay said the assailants on Sunday were neither cow vigilantes nor motivated by religious concerns, but had simply believed the young men were thieves.
“They should have caught them and handed them over to police,” he said. “We would have rewarded them. But now a crime has been committed and police will ensure justice to the victims.”