Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Tuesday said that people involved in cow slaughter will have to face a jail term, The Times of India reported.

Adityanath made the remark at an election rally in Unnao. “We will protect cows at any cost,” the Uttar Pradesh chief minister said. “Those involved in such an act [cow slaughter] will go to jail.” He added that the government will deal with the accused sternly and within the boundaries of law, according to The Hindu.

Adityanath’s comments came a day after the Allahabad High Court expressed concern about the “frequent misuse” of provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, and noted that it was being used to implicate innocent people. The court made the observation while hearing the petition of a man who was accused of cow slaughter and sale of meat under various sections of the Act.

The chief minister also spoke of his government’s efforts to save cows. “To make bovines safe, gaushalas [cow shelters] are being constructed in every district,” he was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times. “Protecting cows is everyone’s responsibility.”

Also read: How Uttar Pradesh became a vigilante state under Adityanath

Chief Minister Adityanath has been accused of launching a crackdown on cow slaughter and small-scale beef trade – run largely by Muslims and Dalits – as part of the BJP’s Hindutva agenda. In June, the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet approved an ordinance increasing the penalty for cow slaughter to up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.

The Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955 was implemented in the state on January 6, 1956. The Act was amended in 1958, 1961, 1979 and 2002.

The central government had banned cow slaughter in May, 2017 – purportedly to preserve and improve indigenous breeds, and prohibit the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle. Cow slaughter is now prohibited everywhere in India except in Kerala, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.