More than 5,000 Bharatiya Janata Party youth workers quit the party on Wednesday as backlash from the Centre’s new rules on cattle sale for slaughter in animal markets continued, The North East Today reported. The leader of the workers, Wilver Greham Danggo, who heads the local BJP youth wing, said the party was trying to suppress the tribal and other beef-consuming communities.

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. However, Danggo said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “sabka saath sabka vikas” campaign was not going well as violent vigilante groups were killing people in the name of cow protection.

“More people are expected to resign from the party in the coming days, especially in the Garo Hills, for their anti-party activities,” state BJP General Secretary Bashailang Khongwir told PTI. On Tuesday, Nalin Kohli, who is in charge of the party’s affairs in the state, had dismissed reports that the BJP wanted to ban beef in Meghalaya as “false and malicious untruth”, PTI reported.

BJP leader Bernard Marak had quit for similar reasons on June 1. “The BJP is hurting sentiments here on the beef issue. Tribal society has its own laws. The BJP is trying to push Hindutva,” he had said. Bernard Marak had announced plans to host a beef party at Eden Bari in Tura on June 10.

In March, the BJP had indicated that its call for a ban on beef is not applicable to states in the country’s North-East. Party leaders in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland had said that the crackdown on meat shops and slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh would not be replicated in the three north-eastern states that would go to the polls in 2018. Beef is a regular part of people’s diets in these states.

Several states have massively criticised the notification, including Kerala, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh, among others.