Holy Cow! PETA Takes Indian Government To Supreme Court, Pt Ravi Shankar Announces

UK Among Top Importers of Leather From Criminally Abused Animals

For Immediate Release:
1 April 2004

Poorva Joshipura 0207 357 9229 Ext 229

Mumbai – At a press conference today – almost four years after Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee sent a directive to India’s state governments to enforce animal-protection laws – multiple Grammy Award-winner Pt Ravi Shankar announced his support for PETA India’s initiative to file a case in the Supreme Court versus the Indian government for failing to alleviate the suffering of animals used for leather and meat. Pt Ravi Shankar has served as India’s cultural ambassador for many years and, in 1999, received the Bharath Rathna, India’s highest civilian honour.

PETA India has gathered evidence of widespread violations of India’s 1960 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, including severe cruelty to Indian cattle, buffalo, goats and sheep, as well as unhygienic conditions in Indian meat-processing facilities. This evidence shows cows’ and other animals’ being crowded onto trucks in such high numbers that many become severely injured or die en route, and later, at most abattoirs, being dragged and cut open, often with dirty, blunt knives on floors covered in faeces, blood, guts and urine, some animals being skinned and dismembered while still conscious.

Says Pt Ravi Shankar, ‘My heart goes out to India’s suffering animals. I am hopeful that PETA India’s case will strike a chord with the [Indian] government and get them to act against criminal abuse, for animals’ sake’.

Nearly 71 per cent of leather footwear exported from India goes to the UK, Germany, the US and Italy. According to Budget India, ‘[f]inished leather accounted for as [much] as 50 per cent …of … total export[s] from the livestock sector during 2000-01’. The UK was the largest importer of Indian leather footwear and the third-largest importer of Indian leather goods the following year. PETA India and Europe are currently supporting an animal-welfare reform initiative begun by PETA in conjunction with India’s Council for Leather Exports, calling it ‘a promising, small but important start’. PETA Europe is currently discussing similar projects with Marks and Spencer, Arcadia and other companies through the British Retail Consortium but says that more support is required from the Indian government.

PETA’s advocate in the case, Mr Raj Panjwani, says, ‘Anyone who lives near [virtually] any abattoir [in India] can attest to the bellowing of the animals, the stench, filth and disregard for public health. No matter who wins the [Indian] elections, it’s high time for action’. A notice has been issued by a bench headed by the Honourable Justice Y K Sabharwal to Indian state governments and union territories to answer PETA’s charges.

For more information, visit PETAIndia.com or contact PETA Europe.