The Gujarat Assembly on Friday amended its cow protection law to introduce a life term as punishment for slaughtering the animal. The Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act of 2011 earlier awarded seven-year sentences and a Rs 50,000 fine to those found guilty of slaughtering a cow or transporting beef.

“Protection of cows is the single-most important principle towards saving the whole world from both moral and spiritual degradation. The Gujarat Bharatiya Janata Party government understands the importance and values of the cow and that is the reason for the Bill. Congrats to all members,” Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said in a series of tweets on Friday. The chief minister said the animal is the symbol of all other creatures to Indians. “The cow is a symbol of the Earth, the nourisher and the ever-giving and undemanding provider.”

On March 12, Rupani had said that his government would enact a stricter law to protect cows. A complete ban on cow slaughter was imposed in the state in 2011, when Narendra Modi was the chief minister, by amending the Gujarat Animal Preservation Act of 1954.

A Bill to amend the 2011 law was introduced in the Assembly in the ongoing Budget Session.