Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale on Friday said, "everybody has a right to eat beef" and promised action against cow vigilantes who assault and lynch people in the name of cow protection.
Addressing the media, he said in recent months, many people have been beaten, some of whom lost their lives, for suspected possession or transport of beef or meat of other animals.
"Even Prime Minster Narendra Modi has expressed concern over this and warned that such incidents would not be tolerated. Yet, such incidents have not stopped," Athawale said, adding that such incidents will not be tolerated any more and the self-styled cow vigilantes will be dealt with sternly.
"Everybody in the country has a right to eat beef. The gau rakshaks have the right to lodge a police complaint... However, they don't have the authority to take the law in their hands and beat or lynch anybody," said Athavale, who is President of NDA constituent, the Republican Party of India-A.
The minister's statement came days after Maharashtra was rocked by beef-related incidents -- two in Pune and one in Nagpur -- in which four persons were arrested and a former BJP activist brutally assaulted on suspicions of transporting beef by a mob of cow vigilantes respectively.