In a country where beef is widely considered the norm, some say a rise in cow slaughter in recent years has given the country an image of being an aggressive and lawless place.
“In the past, we would be seen as a cow-eaters’ paradise,” says Rajesh, a 28-year-old teacher who did not want to be identified.
“We have become a nation that doesn’t care about cows, and that’s a big problem.”
Many say the country has become a cow baron.
“People in the country want to eat beef because it’s cheap, it’s meat and they don’t care for the environment,” says Manish Kumar, who owns an Indian restaurant in the southern city of Chennai.
“I used to eat cow meat as a child and it was disgusting.
Now, it is fine for me to eat it.”
The country’s reputation as a meat-eating, lawless and violent place is also tarnished by the murder of the former chief minister, who was shot dead in 2009 while he was visiting a nearby temple.
But the violence that erupted after that incident has been largely contained, and people who have come to the city to experience it say it is no longer the scene of an ancient and bloody conflict.
“It has become very calm,” says Ramakrishna, who lives near the temple.
“There are no riots anymore, and the people are not violent.
The temples are still open.”
But in the past three years, violence has escalated, with attacks on temples, a new law allowing people to kill cows and the deaths of two people.
“Things are getting worse every day, especially in the evening, when people have gone home and started drinking alcohol,” says Arun, a 29-year old lawyer, who also does not want his surname used.
“What I am doing is making it easier for the police to do their job.”
India’s cow laws have always been strict, but the last three years have seen a marked change in the culture, and a surge in cow vigilantism, says Dr Ramchandra, the animal rights activist.
“When the cow laws were passed, there was a sense of fear in society that a law would be passed against cows,” he says.
“Now, we are being told we have to be vigilant.
I am very scared.”
While many have been killed by cow vigilantes, the police have not done enough to crack down on cow vigilanty.
“The police are reluctant to intervene, because the people who are killing them are cow-protection activists, who want to kill them,” says the lawyer, adding that many of the people killed are young women.
“But they don´t have the courage to fight back.”
India has been witnessing an increase in cow vigilanteism for a number of years.
“Since the cow law was passed in 2005, the number of cow vigilanties has increased by 200 percent,” says Dr Arun.
“That is a sign that things are getting out of hand.”