New Delhi: Taking a stern action against cow vigilantism, the Home Ministry on Tuesday asked states and union territories not to tolerate any incidents of attack on individuals in the name of protecting cow.
The Home Ministry's advisory came two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for punishing fake "gau rakshaks" (cow protectors).
The advisory said historically cattle have a very special, respected and venerated status in Indian culture and history and even the father of the nation had stated that 'cow protection to me is not mere protection of cow, it means protection of that (which) lives, is helpless and weak in the world'.
However, that does not entitle any individual or group of persons to take action on their own to prevent the alleged slaughter or punish the alleged wrong doers.
"Recently, some incidents have been reported where certain persons or groups have taken law into their hands in the name of protecting cows and have committed crimes in pursuance thereof. This is not an acceptable situation."
"The states are, therefore, enjoined upon, and expected to ensure that any person who takes law into his/ her own hands is dealt with prompt, and punished as per law. There should be no tolerance at all for such persons and full majesty of law must come to bear on them, without exception," it said.
The advisory said no person can, under any circumstances, take the law into their hands and any person, or persons, doing so have to be dealt with strictly under the relevant laws, and brought to justice in the quickest possible fashion, for the strictest punishment.
The recent issue of flogging of four Dalits by cow vigilantes in Gujarat's Una town on July 11 has put the BJP in a troubled spot.
The Modi government and BJP have also faced flak over incidents of violence against Dalits and Muslims by cow vigilantes in other states such as Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Quoting the Directive Principles of State Policy, which provides for the preservation of cows, the Home Ministry advisory said the state shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.
Entry 15 of the State list of the 7th Schedule allocates the work of 'Preservation, protection and improvement of stock and preservation; veterinary training and practice' to the states, it said.
Consequently, laws pertaining to cow preservation on prohibition of slaughter vary from state to state.
"In states where slaughter of cows is prohibited by law, such slaughtering would be in violation of law and an offence."
"However, that does not entitle any individual or group of persons to take action on their own to prevent the alleged slaughter or punish the alleged wrong doers," it said.
The advisory said Section 39 of the CrPC requires that any person aware of the commission of certain offences or intention thereof, is required to give information to the nearest magistrate or police officer of such commission or intention.
"Therefore, if an offence is committed, or about to be committed, such an offence, or possibility of offence is required to be brought to the notice of the concerned police authorities or magistrate for appropriate action as per law," it said.
Modi's comments against cow vigilantes had evoked sharp reactions from 'gau rakshaks' and many right-wing organisations across the country.
On a visit to Telangana, Modi had on Sunday - for the second time in 24 hours - called for protecting Dalits and for isolating and punishing fake "gau rakshaks" (cow protectors), saying they were destroying the country.
Earlier, breaking his silence on cow vigilantism, Modi had in New Delhi on Saturday said he felt "very angry" at such incidents and has asked state governments to prepare a dossier of people who are "running shops" in the name of cow protection.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has also urged people not to get influenced by these anti-social elements.