London, Dec 14 (UNI) Hindus in Britain have expressed outrage over kiling of a sacred cow by government vets at the Hare Krishna temple in Watford.
Police, RSPCA inspectors and a government vet administered a lethal injection to Gangotri, a 13-year-old Belgian Blue-Jersey cross yesterday morning at the temple while prayers were on.
The cow had been injured for more than a year and suffered from bed sores because she could no longer stand. Government ministers have strongly defended the decision to kill the cow and end her suffering.
Shocked over the incident, disciples at Bhaktivedanta Manor in Hertfordshire have accused the government of underhand tactics in the animal's slaughter.
''You can expect protests and lobbying, we will do whatever it takes to be heard. We are all in shock at the moment, we are all too shocked to even be angry,'' Gauri Das, a disciple, said.
The outrage over Gangotri's death follows that caused by the government-ordered slaughter of Shambo, a sacred Hindu bull who was killed in Wales after angry protests from monks.
Swift action on part of the government may be ascribed to avoid any stand-off with the Hertfordshire-based monks.
The plight of Gangotri sparked fierce debate in the House of Commons. Barry Gardiner, the Labour MP for Brent North said, ''At 0900 hrs this morning an outrage was perpetrated against the Hindu community in this country.
''An RSPCA vet accompanied by three police officers went unannounced to Bhaktivedanta Manor and put down a cow, a sacred cow, which had been nursed by the herdsman at the manor for 14 months.
''This cow I must stress was not contagious in any way, was not diseased, she had a muscle wasting problem and was nursed for bed sores alone,'' he said.
He added, ''This is something which has caused great concern amongst the community - and we have laws against blasphemy in this country.'' Harriet Harman, the leader of Commons, said she understood the ''huge strength of feeling and concern'', adding that Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, would write to Mr Gardiner to explain the background.
When the cow was killed by lethal injection, the majority of the temple's worshippers were at morning prayer. The RSPCA had met with Mr Das day before yesterday and he was adamant that at the end of that meeting he was told that the temple would be given time to seek legal advice.
Last night, farm manager Stuart Coyle, described how he rushed to the farm when he heard police had arrived but was stopped by an RSPCA inspector. He said, ''I realised that he was there to cut me off from entering the farm. By the time I made it to the farm she was already dead.'' Tushta Krishna was the last person from the temple to see Gangotri alive. He said, ''I was in the cow shed when they came in. I thought they were simply going to check on her but a part of me worried that they were going to kill her there and then.
''I started to question them and then lost my temper and a police constable took me outside. A few moments later the vet came outside and said 'It's done','' Mr Krishna said.
The temple admitted that Gangotri suffered from bed sores because she could no longer stand up after she damaged her hind muscles.
However, they insist she was not suffering from any disease.
Yesterday followers at the temple held a series of ceremonies to mark the end of Gangotri's life. Julie Stainton, a spokeswoman for the RSPCA, said the organisation had done everything it could to observe religious sensitivities.
But she said, ''It would have been wrong to allow this situation to continue. This animal had been in constant pain and suffering for some time.
''We know the cow was suffering from painful and infected sores, her limbs had become wasted and her breathing difficult,'' she maintained.
She said three separate vets had agreed that the animal was suffering and should be immediately put down.
The temple's farm has 42 cows.