Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Sunday condemned the killing of a calf, allegedly by his party workers in Kerala, as part of a protest against the Union government’s ban on the sale of all kinds of cattle for slaughter at animal markets across the country. On Twitter, Gandhi said the incident was “thoughtless, barbaric and completely unacceptable to me and the Congress Party. I strongly condemn the incident.”

Earlier in the day, police had registered a case against Youth Congress Kannur mandal worker Rijil Makulti and others based on a complaint filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Yuva Morcha, PTI reported. “If anyone has violated the law then he should be dealt with accordingly and the Congress party will not support him,” Congress Spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said on Sunday. “However, we need to first establish whether the person in the video is related to the party or not.”

“I must add that at the moment, apart from an insinuation and innuendo by the BJP, there is absolutely no material to suggest that it was a Congress person,” Singhvi said.

The accused skinned the animal and distributed its meat among those present at the site. The Youth Congress has denied any role with the incident too and said that the people seen the video were not its members. “But “we shall probe the matter [to find out] if any of our office-bearers is involved”.

Describing the accused Congress workers as “butchers”, Kerala BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan uploaded a video of the incident on Twitter, where it was widely circulated. PTI quoted Makulti as saying, “We don’t regret our act. This was done as part of our protest.”

On Saturday, beef eating festivals were held across Kerala as part of the protest. The new rules notified by the Environment Ministry on Tuesday require anyone purchasing cattle to provide an undertaking that the animals are bought for agricultural purposes and not slaughter.

The ban is likely to hit the export and leather industry. The new notification comes on the back of demands from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for the Centre to issue a law banning cow slaughter across the country. Cow slaughter is banned in most states, except for the North East and Kerala, but the slaughter of other bovine animals such as buffaloes is much more common.