A PhD scholar, who had participated in a campus beef festival at IIT Madras to protest against the central government’s notification to ban the sale of cattle for slaughter in markets across the country, was allegedly beaten up by a group of students on Tuesday.

R Sooraj, an aerospace engineering PhD student, was surrounded and thrashed by a group of students during lunch time at a hostel canteen, the organiser of the festival told Hindustan Times. The attackers, believed to be Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad members, had allegedly issued death threats to all beef eaters on the campus, reported the Indian Express.

Abhinav Surya, a final year mechanical engineering student, said there was severe damage to Sooraj’s right eye and he was taken to hospital. “We have lodged a complaint with the Dean of IIT-M and are planning to register a police complaint as well,” Abhinav told Hindustan Times.

The beef festival was held on Sunday evening by a group of 70-80 students in protest against the Centre’s directive. Many say the directive violates personal rights and will impact India’s cattle traders, who are mostly believed to be Muslims.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court stayed the central government’s new notification. It had agreed to an urgent hearing of a plea against the new rules.

On Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had called the ban “unconstitutional”, adding that her state would not accept the decision. Kerala too had rejected the directive and had organised several beef festivals across the state in protest.