The police said the two men, construction workers, and the minor had gone to a grocery shop with a bag in hand. The shopkeeper asked them what was in the bag. Beef, they responded, and showed him. It is not clear what the shopkeeper objected to, but soon people gathered; the altercation grew louder.
The police had received a complaint from residents of Gohain Tekela locality that the three were provoking people by showing the meat to people near a Namghar, a prayer place.
"The locals lodged an FIR accusing them of trying to provoke them on religious lines. On interrogation, they admitted to public display of beef and an altercation with locals," the Jorhat police chief Prashant Kumar Bhuyan told NDTV. The two men were remanded in judicial custody by a local court while the minor has been sent to a juvenile home.
Cow slaughter is not banned in Assam where the BJP leads a coalition government after last year's election. The Assam Cattle Preservation Act 1950 permits slaughter of all cattle over 14 years of age or injured. Violations are punishable with a maximum six months jail.
The men told the police they bought the meat from a slaughterhouse. The police said they were ascertaining if the slaughterhouse had the requisite permits.