Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale on Friday said every individual has the right to eat beef. He also threatened that his Republican Party of India will take to the streets if cow vigilantes continue to indulge in violence, The Indian Express reported.

“Every individual has the right to decide what they should eat,” the minister said. “If anybody wants to eat beef, it is their individual right. Today, cow vigilantes, in the name of cow protection, are stopping vehicles carrying meat or animals and beating people. Many innocent people have lost their lives, which cannot be justified or overlooked.”

Athawale also condemned the Nagpur incident, in which a man was beaten up on the suspicion that he was carrying beef. “Since goat meat is expensive, people eat beef...It is not right to become a nar bhakshak [cannibal] in the name of being a gau rakshak [cow protector].”

The minister also pointed out that such incidents undermine Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts. “The increasing incidents of violence in the name of the cow could be a strategy to undermine Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Opposition leaders have alleged the role of a section of the BJP working to undermine the rising status of Modi,” he claimed.