PRESS RELEASE by Bhaktivedanta Manor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tory Ministers Visit site where Gangotri was Killed by the RSPCA
Peter Ainsworth MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Shailesh Vara MP, Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons visited Bhaktivedanta Manor in Watford on Monday 11th March. The shadow ministers met with His Grace Gauri Das, President of the Temple. Top of the agenda was discussion about Gangotri, recently put to death by the RSPCA
The visit included a tour of the Cow Protection programme and works to the new 3 million pound project to build the largest Cow Protection Farm in Europe. “The ministers saw the bulls working in the fields, and cows being milked? said Gauri Das the Temple President. “We all then had a tasty and enjoyable lunch with paneer curry, a curd cheese made from milk from our cows fresh that morning.”
When visiting the site at which Gangotri was put to death by the RSPCA, Mr Ainsworth said ?I hope that the community at Bhaktivedanta Manor will accept my sincere condolences on the loss of Gangotri. One of the many things which I learnt from my visit is that Bhaktivedanta Manor provides a very caring environment, and I fully believe that Gangotri benefited from all possible attention and medical care. I was disturbed to learn that the version of events set out to me by the RSPCA differs, in some important matters of fact, from what was actually experienced on site in the days leading up to 13th December last year.?
Among other things the temple is seeking an investigation into the killing of Gangotri by the RSPCA, Mr Ainswroth gave his support to this end and said ?I agree that it will be important to establish the truth of what happened, partly so that justice can be done to Gangotri’s memory, partly to ensure that the integrity of the Manor is upheld, and partly so that lessons can be learnt. I will be asking Hilary Benn to report on progress since the meeting he held with representatives of the Hindu community.?
Mr Vara the Shadow leader of the House of Commons said, ?I am particularly keen to ensure that, for the future, there is a proper procedure established, so that this sort of incident does not happen again. We must all work together to achieve that end.?
The Hindu Community have been reeling at the way the RSPCA acted and the killing of Gangotri has seen universal condemnation from Hindus from around the world.
?It is clear to me that what happened on 13th December was not acceptable or right.? Commented Mr Ainsworth.
The Temple has is now considering legal proceedings against the RSPCA and looking to the Government to act, to prevent such incidents happening in the future.
Notes to Editor:
COPYRIGHT FREE PHOTOS
Permission nor any acknowledgement is required to use these pictures.
For photos and further information please contact Vinay Tanna, Communications Director at the Temple, on 077 80 70 70 60
Interviews: Kapil Dudakia, Chair of the Justice for Gangotri Campaign: 07971573026
For further information about the visit, please contact Daniel Hunt in Shailesh Vara MP’s office on 0207 2196050
Bhaktivedanta Manor, in Aldenham near Watford in Hertfordshire, is one of the largest Hindu temples in Europe and possesses 78 acres of land. In 1973 former Beatle George Harrison purchased the property for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). A beautiful shrine was established in August 1973 by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who brought the movement to the West in 1965. Bhaktivedanta Manor, renamed in his honour, is now a theological college for fifty trainee priests. It has become the most important Krishna shrine in Britain, and on the festival occasion of Janmashtami, attracts up to 60,000 visitors. The shrine is acclaimed for its high standards of cleanliness and devotion. Amongst its parkland, lake and gardens, cows and bullocks graze peacefully in the pasture. The centre also includes courses and workshop training facilities, a monastic order, a fully equipped theatre room, and a nursery and primary school.
The RSPCA? s killing of Gangotri:
On 13th December 2007 one of Bhaktivedanta Manor? s sick cows who was being treated by its keepers and professional vets with Reiki, acupuncture and massage was unfairly and forcibly put down by officials from the RSPCA.
The death of Gangotri, a Belgian Blue-Jersey cross, caused outrage among worshippers, who say that they were deceived. ?This is shocking and duplicitous behaviour. We have been deceived by those who had given us their word,? Gauri Das, president of the temple, said.
Gauri das said that the RSPCA and police had given assurances that they would not take drastic action and that the temple would be allowed to form a legal case, but that they returned to kill the cow when many devotees were praying.
The issue received considerable media attention both nationally and internationally, and Bhaktivedanta Manor received support from all the main Hindu organisations in Britain, including the Hindu Forum of Britain, The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, The National Council of Hindu Temples, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Swaminarayan Mission (BAPS), and the National Hindu Students Union.
Hindu leaders expressed their outrage and frustration, considering the killing to be not only an entirely unnecessary waste of life, but also a symbolic attack on Hinduism itself, a religion of non-violence.
“Never before have I seen such anger and solidarity in our community,? said Arjan Vekaria of the Hindu Forum of Britain. ?We want answers and retribution and we will not stop until we get them.”
Raj Joshi, the vice-chairman of The Society of Black Lawyers, angrily commented: ?This action is showing complete disregard for the sensitivities of the third largest religion in this country. It is astonishing that the authorities seem to have disregarded all customary tolerance and understanding, and certainly the relevant legislation, in carrying out this unwarranted and inhumane destruction of an animal.?
Over the Christmas period prayer vigils were held and protests were staged outside the RSPCA? s national headquarters in Horsham, West Sussex.
On 13th February 2008 a noisy demonstration was held outside Parliament with a simultaneous event in India to mark the scattering of Ashes of Gangotri. The demonstration culminated in the mock killing of a ‘cow’ by protestors dressed as RSPCA officers.
For more information, news and views about the Gangotri issue, please visit: www. justiceforgangotri. org