Uttar Pradesh cow slaughterhouses
Yogi Adityanath, newly appointed Chief Minister of India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh arrives to attend a meeting with government officials at Lok Bhavan in Lucknow, India Pawan Kumar/Reuters

Yogi Adityanath, the newly appointed chief minister of India's Uttar Pradesh (UP) state, has set the tone of his administration by kicking off the crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses and cattle smuggling in the state.

Adityanath, a Hindu nationalist leader known for his stern political views and unyielding religious beliefs, on Wednesday (22 March) ordered the state police to draw up a credible action plan in curbing unlawful cow slaughter.

Cows are considered holy in the Hindu community and the issue has been at the central point of political debates for some time in the highly polarised state of UP.

One of the major promises of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – Adityanath's political outfit that clinched the recent state elections – was to shut all the illegal and mechanised slaughterhouses across UP, which is India's most politically vital and populous state. If it were a separate country, UP would the world's fourth-largest democracy.

"This is nothing new. Banning of illegal slaughter houses is a part of our manifesto. We will not allow any illegal activities in state," said UP's senior minister Siddharth Nath Singh. The fate of legal slaughterhouses is also in limbo as the government is threatening to set up a separate plan to handle the matter. On Tuesday three meat shops were also set on fire by unruly mobs, which the critics fear have been emboldened by the recent election outcome.

"My shop was set on fire twice since the new government came to power. This shop was the only income source for me and my family," one of the affected shop owners was quoted as saying by News18.

On another front, the chief minister has also directed the authorities in banning cancer-causing tobacco products, locally made pan, in the government-run offices. The state's deputy chief minister, Keshav Prasad Maurya said: "The CM [chief minister] also advised against the use of pan masala, plastic and pan in government buildings and offices."