The Kerala Police on Thursday arrested eight Indian Youth Congress workers, including a local leader, for their alleged involvement in the public slaughter of a calf during a beef festival on May 27. The men had slaughtered the calf in public in Kannur in protest against the Centre’s notification banning the sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter at animal markets. The men were arrested after a complaint was filed by the BJP’s youth wing, Yuva Morcha, reported Indian Express.

IYC Kannur Parliament constituency committee president Rijil Makutty and IYC functionaries and workers A Hari, Joshi Kandathil, Sharafuddin Kattampally, NK Varun, Sudeep James, Justison Chandikolli and Shamej Peralasseri were arrested by the Kannur City police on Thursday.

Makutty, Kandathil and Kattampally were suspended from the party after the incident, which was condemned by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi. Gandhi had had dubbed it as a “thoughtless and barbaric act”. The incident was criticised by Sangh Parivar leaders.

The men were shouting slogans against the Narendra Modi-led BJP government while committing the act. They later cooked and distributed the meat, reported Hindustan Times.

A case was registered against the activists on multiple counts – infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering on animals, treating animals cruelly, unlawful assembly and causing inconvenience to the public, said the police. The leaders, if convicted, could get a jail term of up to one year or a fine of Rs 5,000.

Meanwhile, Makutty on Wednesday admitted the act committed by them was a big mistake and that he, along with the other members, were ready to face the consequences. “But at the same time, people should be aware of those who lynch poor in the name of keeping beef and execute their opponents in broad daylight,” Makutty was quoted as saying by The Statesman.

On May 26, the Centre had issued new rules that require cattle traders to give an undertaking that the animals being sold at markets would only be used for agricultural purposes. Several states have massively criticised the notification, including Kerala, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh, among others. Madras High Court on Tuesday had stayed the notification for four weeks and asked the Centre to reply to its order.