Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) condemned the alleged lynching of a Muslim man in an Indian village earlier this week. Mohammed Akhlaq was killed and his son was left badly beaten, reportedly over rumors they had killed a cow.

HAF leaders urged local authorities in Bisara village near the town of Dadri, located near Delhi, to enact justice for those accused in the brutal attack. While there were some conflicting reports on the violence, HAF representatives unequivocally condemned such violence, saying it ran contrary to Hindu teachings regarding the sanctity of all life and ahimsa, or non-harming, and Hinduism’s history of mutual respect and pluralism.

“Hinduism has survived in India and across the world because of its acceptance of others and its central belief of respect for all living beings,” said HAF Executive Council member and India strategic relations director Swami Venkataraman. “These incidents, however isolated, must be condemned by all Hindus.”

HAF Executive Director Suhag Shukla also urged other Hindu leaders to speak out, noting that such incidents tarnish India’s long history of religious pluralism as well as Hindu teachings.

“The privileging of an animal’s life over that of a man and his son in this horrible incident is a perversion of our teachings. Indeed, the cow is considered sacred by Hindus, but this shouldn’t lead to dogma.” Shukla said. “Moreover, political parties in India need to step back and examine the rhetoric, especially of fringe elements, that leads to such perverse incidents, and understand their responsibility in preventing them from occurring.”