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Activists prevent access to Shambo

world Updated: Jul 26, 2007 22:36 IST

IANS
Highlight Story

Hindu worshippers at the Skanda Vale temple in Wales prevented veterinary officials from reaching the 'sacred' bull Shambo, who is scheduled to be slaughtered after testing positive for TB infection.

In the battle of wits between officials and the Hindu groups, police help had to be requisitioned. Over 100 Hindu worshippers from various parts of Britain, Switzerland and New Zealand began reciting hymns and prayers from early Thursday morning.

Officials served warrants to the temple, but could not gain access as over 100 people were taking part in a ceremony there. At around 4 pm, police officers moved into the site from their position outside the gates, where they had been waiting with an animal trailer and four riot vans.

In the morning, government officials turned up to request entry to the site but were refused as they did not have a warrant, and they returned with two official warrants that give them permission to enter within one calendar month.

But latest reports from the site say that officials had left the site again after failing to gain access to the site for a second time and were seeking advice on how to proceed.

Michael, one of the temple officials, said: "They will have to physically desecrate a temple to get him. He's locked here and we will be having an act of worship in front of where he is."

"If the Welsh Assembly government want to take him out of there, they will have to interrupt an act of worship."

Dave Husseina from Oxford told the BBC: "I'm prepared to put myself in front of the line to protect the bull".

The issue has turned into one between religion and state. The Hindu groups that have campaigned and mounted legal challenges argue that killing the animal would go against their religion and the right to practise their religion.

The official view is that the animal has tested positive for bovine TB, and as per rules needs to be put down to prevent the disease from spreading to other cattle. Every year, thousands of cattle are destroyed to prevent the spread of disease. Veterinary and farming groups in Wales support the government decision to slaughter Shambo.

The Court of Appeal this week upheld the Welsh government's order to put it down in line with animal health regulations.

Michael added: "We are holding a pooja, praying for the life of Shambo and the sanctity of all life. Our religious laws prevent us from assisting in the killing of any life and so we will not help the inspectors remove Shambo."

"He will remain in his enclosure and they will have to physically desecrate a temple and an act of worship to get him. As a registered place of worship we will undertake our legal right to worship the god."

A Welsh assembly spokesperson said: "This has been a difficult case for all involved, but our aim continues to be the protection of human and animal health. We appeal to the community to cooperate fully in order to minimise distress to the animal, and to ensure the safety of all concerned."