"Cow slaughter and beef was banned since the Vedic times. Even during the Mughal rule, it was banned during the times of Bahadurshah Zafar, Akbar and Jehangir. It has even been written in the 'Babarnama' that one cannot rule over Hindustan unless you stop cow slaughter," he said at a function here in memory of those killed during a demonstration on the issue here 50 years ago.
The Home Minister said there was a need to take the states into confidence on the matter, though many states have already banned cow slaughter after increased awareness over the issue.
"As far as cow is concerned, it is not just a cultural issue, it is an issue of faith. But besides being an issue of faith, it is also an issue which should be viewed from economic, historical and scientific perspective," he said.
Singh said the NDA government was working towards enforcing complete ban on smuggling of cattle to Bangladesh and taken a number of steps in this regard, but achieved only "partial success" keeping in view the long borders.
"I want to tell you on behalf of our government that we want that cow should be protected. We have tried to stop the smuggling of cows to Bangladesh from across the borders. But the borders are very vast and we have achieved only partial success.
"We have taken a number of measures and will try to put a complete ban on smuggling of cows, but I feel this will take some time," Singh said, adding Article 48 of the Constitution mentions that governments will work to stop cow slaughter.
"We should understand that India is a federal country and there is need to take the states into confidence. Many states have already banned cow slaughter and recently Jharkhand has done so," he said.
Paying tributes to those who died on November 7, 1966 while raising the issue of cow slaughter in Delhi, the Home Minister said "I believe they gave their supreme sacrifice for a big goal. I pay my tributes to them. I also laud you for remembering them even after 50 years."
His remarks come days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi dubbed some people protecting cows as "criminals" masquerading as cow vigilantes and sought action against them.
RSS general secretary Bhayyaji Joshi said cow protection movement has come a long way as "there is a government now in place whose Home Minister is sitting among cow protectors and paying homage" to those killed 50 years ago for seeking efforts in this direction.
Citing a US Department of Agriculture meet convened to define genetic sequence of cows where 300 scientists were invited from 25 countries, Singh said it had concluded that 80 per cent of the genes found in the cow and a human were the same.
In his speech, Joshi said 50 years ago, 'gau rakshaks' came to present their point of view before Parliament and the Home Minister of that time "meted out such treatment to them which was inhuman."
"Today, we have a gathering of 'gau rakshaks' who have come together to pay homage to those killed 50 years ago and this government's Home Minister is sitting with us on the stage in joining us pay homage. In that society, there was a conspiracy being hatched from behind and today our Home Minister is saying 'gau mata ki jai'," the RSS leader said.
A large number of religious leaders and VHP and RSS leaders were present during the meet where tributes were paid to those killed in the agitation.