A Bharatiya Janata Party MLA in Rajasthan said on Monday that slaughtering cows is a bigger crime than terrorism as cows are treated as mothers in India, PTI reported. Gyan Dev Ahuja, who represents Ramgarh in Alwar district, claimed terrorists kill “two to five people”, but slaughtering cows hurts sentiments of thousands of people.

Ahuja said “misbehaviour with the mother” will not be tolerated in India and therefore it is a bigger crime than terrorism. “We treat cows like our mother,” he said, according to the Hindustan Times. “Cow slaughter should be kept in the category of terrorism and special task force should be made to deal with this issue.”

On Sunday, Ahuja, a three-time MLA, said that if cow smugglers are caught, they should be “slapped a few times and tied to a tree”, and then the police should be informed. However, clarifying his comments to The Indian Express on Monday, Ahuja said he appealed to the people not to take law into their hands.

“What I meant to say was that don’t beat or assault cow smugglers severely,” he told the newspaper. “Instead, after two to four slaps, tie them to a tree so that they are not able to escape. Police should be informed after that. They will arrive and arrest them and will handle the legal proceedings. Nobody should take law in their hands.”

His comments come over a week after a man, Rakbar Khan, was allegedly assaulted in Rajasthan’s Alwar district. Three men have been arrested in the case so far. However, authorities said that evidence suggested Khan died in police custody. The local police delayed taking Khan to a hospital.

Last week, Ahuja demanded that the arrested men be released, calling them gau rakshaks (cow protectors). He also demanded that a case of cow smuggling be registered against Rakbar Khan and his partner Aslam. “If the government fails to do so, then the people of the area won’t take it well and will file a complaint in the court,” he said, according to the Hindustan Times.