Speaking out after a 71-year-old nun's gangrape in West Bengal, the head of India's Catholic bishops has said the country should be as concerned about the welfare of its people as it is about its cows.
"The country has a responsibility towards all of us - every human being - and not just cows," Cardinal Baselios Cleemis told journalists, in an apparent reference to moves by some state governments to ban beef.
Maharashtra banned the selling of beef in February and Haryana has since imposed stringent penalties for cow slaughter.
The comments, reported in newspapers on Wednesday, were confirmed by Cleemis' office.
Cleemis spoke before visiting the hospitalised nun who was raped at a convent school in Bengal's Nadia district, an attack which has triggered protests across the country and in Parliament.
Cleemis is head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, an Indian branch of the faith that is in communion with Roman Catholicism and that traces its roots back to the Thomas the Apostle, who tradition says arrived here in the first century.
The ghastly crime prompted Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to order a CBI investigation.
The state police had yet to make any arrest even after six days of the crime. State officials suspect the culprits, who also looted Rs 12 lakh during the attack on the convent, fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Police have not established whether the assault motive was religion or money. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "deeply concerned" and demanded a detailed report into what happened.
Close on the heels of the Bengal incident, some people partly demolished a church being built in Haryana, replacing its cross with a Lord Hanuman's image.
A few days before the demolition, a member of Parliament from the BJP, Subramanian Swamy, was criticised for saying that churches and mosques were not sacred buildings.