Police have detained three upper caste men for questioning after the body of 21-year-old Pradeep Rathod was found in a pool of blood near Timbi village in Gujarat state late Thursday night.
Dalits, formerly known as "untouchables", are among the most marginalised groups in India, where caste discrimination is outlawed but remains widespread.
Rathod's father, who found the body, "has alleged that his son was killed by people of upper caste community of his village because he owned a horse despite being a Dalit," deputy police superintendent A.M. Saiyed told AFP.
"We have detained three persons named in the complaint filed by Pradeep Rathod's father for questioning."
In his complaint, seen by AFP, Rathod's father stated his son loved horses and he had bought him one eight months ago.
"My son's love for horses led to his murder," the father said.
"About a week ago, when I was riding the horse with my son, one of the persons from the upper caste Kshatriya (warrior) community warned us not to ride the horse in the village.
"He said that people of Dalit community cannot ride horses, only Kshatriyas can ride horses. He also threatened to kill us if we did not sell the horse," the complaint read.
I have read of people being killed because of bulls and cows, camels, dogs, pigs, roosters (fighting cocks) and even birds, but this is the first time I have heard of someone being been beaten to death for owning and riding a horse.