H Farook, 31, a local political activist, known for his outspokenness, especially on atheism, was hacked to death on Thursday night in Coimbatore.

Farooq was an iron scrap dealer and was active on both Facebook and WhatsApp. He lived in Coimbatore's South Ukkadam and was a member of Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam (DVK), a breakaway group of the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK).

According to police, he was attacked by a four-member gang on Thursday night near Bilal Estate in South Ukkadam.

The eye-witnesses claimed that the body bore multiple wounds.

The police team probing Farooq's murder suspect it to be a work of local fanatics. Farooq, who operated a WhatsApp and Facebook group, routinely would debunk religion and religious claims. Recently, the victim had put up rationalistic messages on his Facebook page which were severely criticised by members of the Muslim community, who called him an apostate, the police said.