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British Hindus protest mercy killing

Over 100 Hindus stage a noisy mock-slaughter of a cow outside the British parliament to highlight legal loopholes.

world Updated: Feb 14, 2008 18:46 IST

Over 100 Hindus staged a noisy mock-slaughter of a cow outside the British parliament to highlight legal loopholes that they say allowed authorities to euthanise a temple cow last year.

The protestors staged the mock-slaughter on Wednesday as Hindus in India's holy town of Varanasi scattered the ashes of the euthanised Jersey blue-cross, named Gangotri, in the Ganges.

Organisers Hindu Forum UK say the cow, which was unable to stand after an accident, was being cared for by devotees at Bhaktivedanta Manor temple in the northwest London suburb of Watford.

They say vets from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) put down the cow with lethal injection on December 13, 2007, while devotees were praying.

"You took our dear Gangotri. Now Hindus will stand up," said a banner carried by protesters.

"While we pray, the RSPCA slay," said another.

The protest began at the House of Commons and ended outside the offices of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

An RSPCA spokesman said three independent vets had recommended that the 13-year-old cow be euthanised immediately.

"The RSPCA will always seek to respect religious views, but the most important thing is to stop animals suffering. That is what the RSPCA is for and what the public expects us to do. We are sorry for any offence caused. We did all we could to take religious sensitivities into account," he said.

The spokesman added: "The RSPCA is based on a profound respect for animals, something we share with many religious communities. We hope to work with this community and their leaders to ensure that this situation never arises again."

A major umbrella group for Hindus in Britain, the Hindu Council UK, stayed away from the protest saying its policy was to engage with the government and encourage a "consensual approach for a temple animal policy".