Uttarakhand will soon issue identity cards to gau rakshaks (cow protectors) and they will be known as gau sanrakshaks (cow guardians), a senior government official told the Hindustan Times on Saturday.

“All gau rakshaks in the state will now be known as gau sanrakshaks [guardians of cows],” said NS Rawat, the chairperson of Gau Sewa Ayog. “Similarly, all gau rakshaks will now be issued identity cards.”

Uttarkhand will become the first state to issue such cards and “genuine gau rakshaks” from six of the total 13 districts have been identified so far”, said Rawat.

“The initiative has been taken to distinguish genuine gau rakshaks from ruffians who resort to violence in the name of cow protection,” said Rawat, adding that the state government came up with the scheme after considering the sentiment expressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi two years ago. “He [Modi] had said that some elements take recourse to violence in the name of cow protection,” Rawat said.

In August 2016, Haryana and Gujarat had also announced such a scheme. The Gujarat Gau Seva Ayog had announced that it would prepare a dossier on gau rakshaks and would consider giving them validated identity cards. Similarly, the Haryana cow commission had decided to issue identity cards to cow protectors, following police inputs about fake cow vigilantes extorting money from truckers. However, the Punjab Gau Sewa Commission had refused to intervene in the process of identification.