Lawmakers punch colleague for serving beef

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Lawmakers from India's ruling Hindu nationalist party in Kashmir kicked and punched an independent member of the state assembly on Thursday for hosting a party where he served beef.

Hindus consider cows to be sacred, and slaughtering the animals is banned in most Indian states.

Bharatiya Janata Party members beat lawmaker Rashid Ahmed, a Muslim, in the assembly soon after its session began Thursday. Television video showed Ahmed hitting back at a BJP member while officials intervened to separate the fighting lawmakers.

Other opposition lawmakers rescued Ahmed and later staged a walkout.

The ruling party lawmakers were angry over a party hosted by Ahmed the previous night at which beef was served.

Differences have deepened within Kashmir's ruling coalition, with the Hindu nationalist party demanding a ban on slaughtering cows and selling beef in the Muslim-majority state.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, took office last year, hard-line Hindus have been demanding that India ban beef sales. Most beef sold across India is buffalo meat.

There has been outrage across India after a 50-year-old Muslim man was beaten to death by a mob last week over rumors that his family had eaten beef for dinner.