A majority of India's beef comes from buffaloes, which are not worshipped, but members of Hindu nationalist groups involved in protests such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) consider themselves protectors of both cows and buffaloes.
Some of these groups have close links with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Modi, who himself criticized the previous government for promoting a "pink revolution to butcher cattle and export meat" when campaigning last April.
The BJP's national general secretary, Ram Madhav, declined to comment on the party's stance on the beef trade and the protests, while Modi's press officer did not respond to calls and a text message seeking comment.
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Satpal Malik, a vice president of the farmers wing of the BJP, said: "We did say we would discourage beef exports and even the prime minister was against it, but I can't comment on what we think of the issue now."
Officials in Maharashtra – scene of some of the most violent protests seen to date – have pledged to arrest anyone found impeding access to slaughterhouses or disrupting cattle movement.
A circular had been sent to all the police units to enforce this and was due to be implemented immediately, said a senior police officer from Maharashtra, declining to be named.
Mohammad Ali Qureshi, president of the Bombay Suburban Beef Dealers Association, said that while beef processing has resumed at many facilities, he would back calls for a nationwide protest if fresh protests break out.
"We will monitor the situation for a month and if the promises are not kept we will launch a nation-wide protest," he said, in between sipping tea as butchers went about their job in Deonar.
But those opposed to the trade vowed to keep staging protests. Killing cows is legal in just two of India's 29 states, though reports of illegal slaughter surface regularly.
"We don't care if the butchers shut shop or announce a strike," said Laxmi Narayan Chandak, head of the Maharashtra unit of VHP's cow protection committee, which says it has been seizing cows held illegally for slaughter for years.
"The previous government supported the butchers to secure votes of the minority community but they have no support in the new government."
India is the world's top beef exporter after Brazil, cornering a fifth of the market. Its outbound shipments last year to October rose to 1.95 million tons, 5 percent more than for the whole of 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.