The Indian soil has always been prosperous for farming and cultivating crops. Consequently the cows and oxen used by farmers to cultivate the Holy Land were respected for their contributions.
Prior to as well as during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, cow slaughtering was strictly prohibited to the extent that any foreigner who joined his military was forbidden from beef consumption. The muslims as well as englishmen who intended to get across Punjab were also to promise that they would not slaughter any cow during their stay in Punjab.
After the annexation of Punjab in 1846 (during the time when Maharaja Dalip Singh was still in Punjab) under the name called Council of Regency, an announcement was posted at the Darbar Sahib saying that a cow slaughter facility would never be opened in Amritsar.
However, in March of 1849, when the englishmen took complete control of Punjab, their very first step was to break their promise and open a cow slaughter facility. On 4th of May 1849 the East India Company gave out the order that hence forth no one would be allowed to interfere with their neighbors' beliefs or practices. This, though sounded like today's so-called democracy, was the biggest step towards destruction of Sikhism in Punjab.
The order allowed cow butchery and made legal the marketing of beef. With this the englishmen shot down 2 birds with one stone. Firstly, their new power to govern Punjab and do whatever pleased them was confirmed. Secondly, they successfully created conflicts between Hindus, who would not reduce themselves to cow-slaughterings, and Muslims, who couldn't care less about it. And the first city that was infected by the Malecha's(foriegner's) order of cow-slaughter was unfortunately the Holy City of Amritsar which they had promised to protect.
Though many Hindus and Sikhs were against such an act, there was nothing much that could be done. Many of them fought with the Muslims who were running the slaughter houses and went through the englishmen's judicial system. But no light was to be seen at the end of the tunnel.
For the englishmen however, these minor blood-sheds were of no major concern, and the cow-slaughtering continued.