Keeping up his attack on cow vigilantes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asked people to beware of "fake" cow protectors as they were trying to create tension in the society.
He also asked the state governments to take stringent action against them.
Modi, while addressing a public meeting after inaugurating a host of development projects Gajwel, Telangana, accused the cow vigilantes of trying to create tension in the society and said they should be exposed and punished.
"I want to tell everybody beware of these fake cow protectors. These handful of vigilantes have nothing to do with cow protection, but want to create 'tandav' (tension) in the society," Modi said.
"In the name of cow protection, these fake cow protectors are trying to disturb the peace and harmony of the nation. I want the real cow protectors to expose them (fake ones) and the state governments should take stringent action against them," he added.
Describing cattle as country's wealth and not burden, the prime minister made a mention of a Himachal Pradesh Governor's campaign of protecting abandoned cows and handing them over to farmers to use them for agricultural activity.
"Cow will never become a burden. Cow urine and dung are used in agriculture," he said, adding that cow should be linked to the country's economic development.
India is a land of diversity, he said, adding "protecting our country's unity and integrity is our primary responsibility. To fulfil it all countrymen should protect and serve cows (gau raksha and gau seva karein). Such service enhances national wealth.... it does not create problem for the nation".
"But fake (cow protectors) destroy society and country. We need to beware of these people. There is a need to punish these people. Then alone can we take the nation to great heights," the prime minister said after inaugurating a host of development projects.
Modi's comments come at a time when his government and the Bharatiya Janata Party are facing flak over incidents of violence against Dalits and Muslims by cow vigilantes in various states including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
Earlier, Modi launched Phase-1 of Mission Bhagiratha, a flagship project of Telangana government aimed at providing piped drinking water to every household in the state.
Modi unveiled a plaque in Medak district's Komatibanda village in Gajwel constituency, represented in the Assembly by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, and formally turned on a water tap on the premises to mark the occasion.
This is Modi's maiden visit to Telangana after formation of the state in June 2014.
IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting in Telangana. Photograph: PIB