A senior Uttar Pradesh police official has said the police have decided to focus on the alleged incident of cow slaughter that triggered violence in the state’s Bulandshahr district on Monday and not the murder of police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh by suspected protestors.

“Our main concern at this moment is to find out who killed those cows,” Additional Superintendent of Police (Bulandshahr) Rayees Akhtar told The Indian Express. “After all, it was the killing of the cows that led to the protest, which resulted in Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh’s murder. Our belief is that once we solve that case, it will throw light on how the murder occurred.”

Akhtar emphasised that the “cow killers are our top priority” and that “the murder and rioting case is on the backburner for now”. He also said that most of those suspected to be behind Singh’s murder seem to have been involved in “cow protection activities”.

The comments came days after Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh claimed the violence was part of a “big conspiracy”. “This is not only a law and order issue, how did the cattle carcass reach there? Who brought it, why and under what circumstances?” he had said on Wednesday, adding that the police will first investigate the cow slaughter complaint. The previous day, Chief Minister Adityanath had asked top administrative and law enforcement officials to conduct a thorough investigation into the alleged cow slaughter.

So far, the police have arrested four people – identified as Chaman, Devendra, Ashish Chauhan and Satish – for Singh’s murder. However, the main accused, Bajrang Dal leader Yogesh Raj, is yet to be arrested.

Four persons have also been arrested for the alleged cow slaughter – Sajid Ali, Sarfuddin, Asif and Nanhe. Sarfuddin, a resident of Badkal, has denied any involvement in the alleged slaughter. The police had booked seven Muslims, including two children, in connection with the case on December 3 on the basis of Yogesh Raj’s complaint.

The Bajrang Dal leader had claimed that he saw seven Muslims slaughtering cows while he was out for a walk with friends in the forests near Mahaw. But he contradicted this in a video statement on Wednesday, claiming he had gone to the spot only after receiving information.