Following a string of crackdowns on meat shops in states like Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, Karnataka is now appearing to follow suit. Cow vigilante groups in the state have demanded that as many as 1,700 meat shops in Bengaluru be shut down, The Times of India reported on Saturday. These groups have alleged that the shops are illegal.

The agitation will be led by Ramchandrapura Mutt’s Raghaveswara Bharathi and joined by other groups like the Gau Samrakshana Prakoshta and Karnataka Federation of Gaushaalas. “We’re planning to lay siege to the BBMP [Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike] office to launch our movement against unauthorised meat shops and beef outlets,” Sundarraj Pai, Karnataka state convener of Gau Samarakshana Prakoshta told The Times of India. He added that his outfit had found that only 43 meat shops in the Karnataka capital were functioning with a valid licence from local authority BBMP.

The groups pointed out that the state high court in 1997 had ordered all slaughter houses and meat shops to be moved out of the city, where population was less dense. “The government must abide by the court order,” Ramachandra Ajjakana, spokesperson of Ramachandrapura Mutt, told The Times of India.

However, Development Minister KJ George is said to have stated that the Congress government in Karnataka will not allow “communal politics” there. “The BJP wants to replicate the Yogi [Adityanath] brand of saffron politics in Karnataka ahead of the elections. That’s why they’re projecting the Ramachandrapura Mutt Swamiji as the leader of their protest. But our government will never allow communal politics to thrive,” the English daily reported George as saying.