Shia Muslims in Lucknow have launched a “Gau Raksha Dal” to protect cows from slaughter. Shamil Shamsi, the newly-appointed president of Shia Gau Raksha Dal, has vowed to eliminate cow slaughter in the country.

Shamsi claimed that his outfit was formed after a meeting of Shia youths at Imambara Zainuabedin in old city of Lucknow, the epicentre of Shia Muslims in the country. Most eminent Shia clergies live in Lucknow.

“In the next two months, we will extend our outfit to all states. It is the duty of every Muslim to protect cows. We will pass on information to police about any cow slaughtering in areas where it is done discreetly,” Shamsi said.

“In states where it is not banned, we are hopeful that the government will put an end to it. We will create awareness about it,” he added. “It will be good if every Muslim household keeps food and water for cow outside their house,” he said.

Shamsi and his his team were seen sporting saffron towels on Friday. In the past, Shamsi has headed Hussaini Tigers, an outfit of Shia youths, and was also part of those who had opposed the visit of author Salman Rushdie at an event in Lucknow. After the Bharatiya Janata Party formed the government in Uttar Pradesh, Shamsi had also alleged that former state minister Azam Khan alleging had usurped waqf properties.

On April 5, the All India Shia Personal Law Board in its meeting at Lucknow had also demanded that cow slaughter be banned. The president of the board, Maulana Ashfaq, had stated that cow meat is haram for Shia Muslims, and a fatwa in this regard had been issued from Iraq.

Another prominent Shia cleric Allama Ali Nasir Abaqat Agha Roohi also issued a statement on Friday forbidding cow slaughter. Agha Roohi’s letterhead stated that he was also a member of the BJP. He said that for the peace and progress of the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should ask all Muslim clerics to unite on issuing a fatwa to ban cow slaughter. He also claimed that Shia Muslims have not eat cow meat since 1960, when the fatwa was issued.

The BJP, after assuming power in the state, has appointed one Muslim minister Mohsin Raza, who is from the Shia community.