In an act that will shock Britain's Hindu community, the RSPCA aided by a vet and escorted by police officers this morning secretly killed a cow at the largest Hindu temple in Britain while worshipers were at prayer.
The cow, named Gangotri, a 13 year-old Belgian Blue and Jersey cross, and much loved by the community, was killed at 9.00 am at the Bhaktivedanta Manor. Police bundled away monks who were in attendance of the sick cow, and the head farmer was kept talking while inside the barn a lethal injection was given to the cow.
Cows are sacred to Hindus, and the killing of a cow is considered to be an outrageous act. The killing of a cow at a temple amounts to religious sacrilege of the worst kind.
The killing was conducted despite personal assurances given the previous day from RSPCA officers and police that due to religious sensitivities no immediate action would be taken.
Concerns that they now had an extended legal situation on their hands, rather than an imminent action, caused the priests at the temple to contact sympathetic MPs who then contacted Hilary Benn MP, the head of DEFRA. Again, assurances were given from DEFRA that no immediate action would be taken.
"This is shocking and duplicitous behaviour" said Gauri Das, the head of the community. "We have been deceived by those who had given us their word."
The religious concern of the Hindu community was evidenced recently by the protests surrounding the case where a temple bull in Wales, Shambo, had a notifiable disease.
It was for this reason that, the previous day, RSPCA regional veterinary Superintendent Timothy Wass, accompanied by two assistants, together with local Hertfordshire police, had visited the temple and engaged in lengthy discussions with Gauri das, who said: "They expressed their sensitivities, and the police gave us their assurances that we would be given time to pursue a legal recourse."
The cow was sick but had no disease. She was being cared for by temple residents and visiting worshipers, and was being administered pain relief.
The temple runs 'The Cow Protection Project' and allows old cows and bulls to die naturally.
Head Farm Manager and former Royal Marine Stuart Coyle explained: "Gangotri was unable to walk, but due to her condition there was some tolerable discomfort".
Stuart Coyle continued in detail: "When she first became sick we called our local vet and followed all the recommendations he directed. Along with with allopathic treatments from our local vet we have also administered a range of alternative treatments which include homeopathy, acupunture, manipulation, massage, and reiki."
"We did expect that she would pass on quite soon after going down however here we are one year and quarter on and she was still going strong.
We have one of our farm personnel who is specifically tasked to nurse her and attend to all her needs.
She was located in the most visitor-accessible position in the farm to enable her to get plenty of company and also to demonstrate an important aspect of Cow protection wherein our cows are cared for the entirety of their natural life.
Over the past month there has been a series of visits from various professional persons who have been requested to make a judgment on her condition. About one month ago our local vet came to visit her at the request of a visitor.
Last week on the 4th of December a Vet from the State Veterinary Service (SVS) came to conduct a test on three of our cows and at the same time to look at Gangotri again at the request of a visitor to the farm. The Vet was informed of our position regarding cows and how we take care of them within our faith. Despite this information he wrote a formal letter advising us that we make arrangements to kill the cow. I have not received this letter yet but I was shown it when he visited again on the 7th of December.
On the second visit of the vet from the SVS he stated his opinion regarding Gangotri and I gave the position of the temple. He indicated on his departure that nothing further would probably come from it taking into count the seriousness of the cows connection with the Hindu Faith.
On the 10th and 11th (I wasn't available on the 10th) of December we were visited by an officer from the RSPCA who had also been contacted by a visitor to the temple regarding Gangotri. He had already been in contact with DEFRA.
He read me my rights under caution and proceeded to issue me with a warning notice stating that we should euthenize gangotri immediately. Later in the afternoon a police office came under the request of the RSPCA to also reinforce the legal position of the RSPCA officer and the SVS vet. Both the RSPCA and police indicated that they would not act without any notification but reminded us that the legal wheels are now turning.
On the 12th of December we were visited by a senior member of the RSPCA accompanied by two other junior RSPCA officers. The RSPCA were also accompanied by two local police officers. During the visit the RSPCA pointed out their position regarding Gangotri and we informed them of our position.
During the meeting we were led to believe that we would have the opportunity of taking some legal action to stop the slaughter notice. The police indicated that we would get time to counter the slaughter notice.
The next morning - this morning - at 9am I received a call that the RSPCA and police were at the farm. On my entering the farm the police issued me with a warrant to enter the premises. At the same time the head of the RSPCA delegation stopped me and apologized about the action they were going to have to make.
During my protestations to the RSPCA officer another officer came and reported that the cow had already been killed. The senior officer had delayed me whilst they sneakily were killing our cow.
I immediately went to the barn to see a vet declaring the cow was dead accompanied by other RSPCA officers."