Chairman of executive council of the Madhya Pradesh Gaupalan Evam Pashudhan Samvardhan Board, Mahamandleshwar Swami Akhileshwaranand Giri, has said that the "third world war will start over a cow".
The former VHP leader made the comments a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned against self-styled cow vigilantes misusing their power.
"The cow has always been a source of contention. There are references in mythology and the first war of independence in 1857 began over the cow," the Indian Express quoted him as saying.
"It's natural for gau rakshaks to get angry when they see dead or injured cows packed in vehicles because it's an emotive issue for them. They should not take the law into their own hands and should wait for the police to come once they stop such vehicles. When all states pass stricter anti-cow slaughter laws, smuggling of cattle through state borders will become impossible," he told the daily.
He also said that he plans to sensitise government officials to refrain from using words like "inspection" when they visit cow shelters, saying that it was offensive to the animals.
He said that the will write to MLAs and MPs of Madhya Pradesh to put aside a part of their constituency funds to conserve cows.
Giri, the head of the MP government body, which protects and conserves cow in the state, is the first religious person to hold the post.
The former VHP office-bearer was associated with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and involved in "reconversion" of Christians to Hinduism in MP and Chhattisgarh. A firm believer in the divinity of the desi cow, he says its milk, urine and dung have medicinal qualities that can fight diseases like cancer and epilepsy.