The videos of self-styled gau rakshaks thrashing innocent people for allegedly transporting cows have raised questions about the safety of people and laxity shown by the states in taking action against them.
"Our message is loud and clear. Everyone must adhere to law and order. No one should take law in their own hands. We have given them the message strongly and cases have also been registered and arrests have also been made," Mr Shah said in Kolkata.
He dismissed that the issue is bringing disrepute to the party. "Cow slaughter prohibition is in the preamble to our constitution," he said.
Though he didn't have much information about the proposed introduction of Aadhaar-like unique identity system for cows, while answering whether the BJP will ban cow slaughter if it came to power in West Bengal, Mr Shah said, "I have read reports (Aadhaar for cows), but I don't know the facts. Regarding the ban, this is for the elected government to decide."
Most BJP-ruled states have asked for tougher laws against cow slaughter, but the BJP never promised a country-wide ban, and always maintained that it is for the states to decide keeping in mind the "sentiments of the people".
After the recent crackdown against slaughterhouses without licences in Uttar Pradesh by the state's new Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, more state governments and organisations made similar demands. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat recently called for a nationwide ban on cow slaughter. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh had also said that anyone found committing cow slaughter in the state will be hanged.
Gujarat, where assembly elections are due later this year, amended the state's Animal Preservation Bill to entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment for cow slaughter and 10 years for transporting cows.
(With inputs from IANS)