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Photograph: Photo by cello5, used under CC0

Police in India's Haryana state have been on the look out for illegal beef following complaints that the meat was being sold in a rice dish by street vendors, a government official said Wednesday.

India has a majority Hindu population of 79.80 per cent. Hindus regard the cow as a holy animal and its slaughter and consumption is banned in most Indian states.

In the northern state of Haryana, cow slaughter can fetch up to 10 years' imprisonment.

"Police in Haryana's Mewat district have been asked to look into the complaints and collect and test samples of the biryani [meat and rice dish] sold by vendors," said Bhani Ram Mangla, chairman of the Haryana Gau Sewa Ayog, a commission set up especially to protect the cow.

Alongside this commission, Haryana's Police Department has a Cow Protection Task Force headed by a senior officer.

Mewat district has a majority Muslim population of about 79 per cent. The complaints about the biryani rice dish started coming in during the run up to the community's Eid-al Adha festival scheduled Saturday-Sunday, district police chief Kuldeep Singh said.

"We held meetings with members of both communities and are looking into the complaints," Singh said.

Since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in India in 2014, there have been several incidents of self-styled cow protection activists attacking people they suspect of transporting cows for slaughter or of storing or carrying beef.

A man was killed by a mob in Uttar Pradesh in 2015 over rumours that his family had killed and eaten a cow sacrificed during Eid-al Adha celebrations.

In August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized the so-called "gau rakshaks," or cow vigilantes, who have attacked people.

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