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Europe - UK/Ireland - Hinduism

Hindus in bid to save sacred bull
(Reuters, July 26, 2007)

London, England - Hindu worshippers turned away officials who came to take their temple's sacred bullock for slaughter on Thursday after it tested positive for bovine tuberculosis.

About 100 protesters said prayers as a veterinary inspector and two police officers arrived at the remote temple in southwest Wales to remove six-year-old Shambo.

Despite impassioned appeals to save the bullock, its fate was sealed in the courts earlier this week when judges ruled that it should be put to death because of the risk to livestock.

Cows are sacred to Hindus and more than 20,000 people signed a petition to save Shambo.

"Our religious laws prevent us from assisting in the killing of any life and so we will not help the inspectors remove Shambo," a spokesman for the Skanda Vale community said. "He will remain in his enclosure and they will have to physically desecrate a temple and an act of worship to get him."

A spokesman for the Welsh regional government said it would seek a warrant to gain access after its officials were turned away.

"We were aware this may happen but we have to be denied access before we can obtain a warrant," the spokesman said. "The community were informed that if access was refused a warrant would be sought."

Officials ordered the animal's slaughter earlier this month under tight rules to help prevent the spread of infection.

Shambo's keepers, who say the animal is healthy and that its slaughter would be "an appalling desecration of life", earlier failed in a long legal challenge to overturn the decision.

The National Farmers Union in Wales says no bull should be exempt from the rules and that to spare Shambo would be unfair on all those farmers who have had to see their stock slaughtered.