The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has advised its cow vigilantes in western Uttar Pradesh, Braj region and Uttarakhand to beat up cattle smugglers but not to break their bones to escape police action, according to a report in the Times of India.
The report quoted one Khemchand, a member of the cow protection department's central committee, as saying that non-VHP workers also need to be canvassed to stop illegal cattle trade.
"We shouldn't take the law into our hands. I often say to my workers - maaro magar haddi mat todo (beat them up but don't break their bones). If you break someone's bones then you will get into trouble with the police. Some people show off by shooting viral videos of them beating up cattle smugglers. There is no need for them to do that," Khemchand said.
In August, Punjab Gau Raksha Dal Chief Satish Kumar was booked for allegedly beating up some people he accused of being cattle smugglers. The video had gone viral. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had strongly condemned a spate of attacks by self-styled gau rakshaks on communities that skin dead cows or ferry bovines. He said he gets "angry" at those who run "shops" in the name of cow protection and wants action to be taken against them.
His statement came after a string of incidents of attacks on Dalits in Una, Gujarat, where a group of youths were brutally beaten up for skinning a dead cow.
In a clarification, Khemchand later said he "only meant" that gau rakshaks should defend themselves against armed cattle smugglers who he claimed carried guns.