Breaking his silence on cow vigilantes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday made it clear that killing people in the name of "gau bhakti" was unacceptable.
Addressing a gathering at the Sabarmati Ashram set up by Mahatma Gandhi here, Modi said: "As a society, there is no place for violence.
"Killing people in the name of 'gau bhakti' (cow worship) is not acceptable. This is not something Mahatma Gandhi would approve."
Modi underlined that no one spoke about protecting cows more than Mahatma Gandhi and Acharya Vinoba Bhave.
"Yes, it should be done," he said. But "we are a land of non-violence. We are a land of Mahatma Gandhi. Why do we forget that?
"Today I want to say a few words and express sadness on some of the things going on," Modi added, in clear reference to the increasing cases of murderous attacks on people in the name of cow protection.
"Violence never has and never will solve any problem. No person in this nation has the right to take the law in his or her own hands.
"Let's us all work together. Let's create the India of Mahatma Gandhi's dremas. Let's create an India our freedom fighters will be proud of," Modi said.
The remarks by Modi, who arrived in Gujarat on Thursday on a two-day visit, assume significance in the wake of criticism that he and his government have maintained silence about the violence by cow vigilantes who have lynched people in various places.
The cow vigilantes claim to be acting to defend an animal which Hindus consider sacred.