Hindu monks sue British charity over cow killing

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London, Mar 29 (UNI) Hindu monks served legal papers on Britain's leading animal welfare charity in protest against the slaughter of a sacred cow.

Gangotri, a 13-year-old Belgian Blue-Jersey cross, was put down by the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals) on December 13 last year in what the charity called a ''mercy killing.'' A group of five monks from Bhaktivedanta Manor Hindu temple along with temple president Gauri Das marched to the RSPCA's West Sussex headquarters. ''The RSPCA unlawfully trespassed on temple property and unlawfully trespassed on the life of a cow. The cow was under veterinary care and was recovering. There was absolutely no reason for her to be killed,'' Mr Das said.

''The way they carried out this act on the sacred premises of a temple with no dialogue was completely unacceptable.'' The cow was killed while monks were worshipping, and the temple alleged that the RSPCA used an illegal warrant to enter their property. The charity was in negotiations with the temple for weeks over the slaughter of the animal because it had a broken leg and had bed sores.

RSPCA director of animal welfare promotion, John Rolls, met the delegation. ''We believe we acted properly, within the law, but clearly they are of a different opinion. I am sorry it has got to this point,'' Radha Mohan Das, a spokesman for the temple, said the action was ''highly offensive'' and the charity had conducted itself in a ''high-handed and devious fashion''.

The RSPCA's actions were an insult and a threat to the Hindu community, he added.

The animal welfare charity said the cow needed to be put down for welfare reasons. Three independent vets agreed it was suffering and should be put down. The cow had been ill for a year and was unable to stand because of its injuries.

He said the heavy-handedness of the RSPCA had been an attempt to stave off a legal battle like that which took place over the killing of Shambo the bull last year.

Shambo, a sacred bull belonging to the Skanda Vale religious community near Carmarthen, Dyfed, tested positive for bovine TB last year and was finally slaughtered in July after much controversy.

Kapil Dudakia, of the Gangotri task force, said the RSPCA had caused great offence to the Hindu community. ''The killing of a cow on grounds where we have a temple is the worst act that anyone can have committed to Hindus,'' he said. ''It showed a level of contempt that deserved a challenge.'' The RSPCA apologised for any offence caused, and added, ''It will always seek to respect religious views, but the most important thing is to stop animals suffering. That is what the charity is for, and what the public expects us to do.'' ''Nonetheless, the RSPCA is based on a profound respect for animals, something we share with many religious communities. Since the death of Gangotri, we have requested to meet with Hindu bodies and hope to hear from them very soon, to begin progressive dialogue to ensure this situation never arises again.'' Last month around 100 protesters gathered outside the House of Commons to to protest against the RSPCA's actions.

UNI XC SYU AS1822

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