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November 20, 2014

India Confiscates Hundreds of Animals at Nepal Border as Illegal Transport Ban Takes Effect Ahead of Gadhimai Festival

HSI/India heads to Nepal in unprecedented mission to save animals from brutal sacrifice

Humane Society International/India

  • Rachel H Walker

Update, 22 November: The latest number of animals reported to have been confiscated has risen to 2,442. The number of arrests is at 114 in Bihar, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Sashastra Seema Bal.

The State of Bihar reported that 271 illegally transported animals have been confiscated at the India/Nepal border ahead of the Gadhimai festival animal sacrifice. This is welcome news for animal protection group Humane Society International/India, which is hopeful the number of animals killed in this year’s sacrifice will be much reduced following a co-ordinated action plan. HSI recently undertook a special mission to Nepal in collaboration with People for Animals and Animal Welfare Network Nepal where they met the President and the Prime Minister of Nepal, as well as Temple officials to call for a suspension of the sacrifice of half a million buffalo, goats and hens.

Last month, the Supreme Court of India, in response to a petition filed by PFA Trustee and HSI consultant Mrs Gauri Maulekhi, passed an interim order directing the Government of India to prevent animals being illegally transported across the border for sacrifice at Gadhimai. The court also asked animal protection groups and others to devise an action plan to ensure the court order is implemented. In response, border checks have been increased and the State of Bihar has confirmed in a report that 47 arrests have been made and 271 animals have been seized in the past month.

HSI also immediately swung into action with an unprecedented week-long visit to Nepal to plead directly with temple officials and the president. A further HSI delegation is preparing to travel again to Nepal next week to patrol the perimeter of the festival site to ensure first-hand that the court order is implemented effectively and that as many animals as possible are confiscated and cared for. As around 70 per cent of the animals to be sacrificed will come from India, this border task force has the potential to significantly reduce the number of animals to be killed.
N.G. Jayasimha managing director of HSI/India said: “I am very pleased that we were able to sit down with the Nepali President, Prime Minister and other politicians, to speak up for the hundreds of thousands of innocent animals who are condemned to an utterly unjustified beheading at Gadhimai. We also spoke directly to the Gadhimai Temple and the local magistrate, so they can be in no doubt of the overwhelming call for compassion. We sincerely hope that they will act to stop this unnecessary bloodshed.”

“It is with a heavy heart that our team will be returning to Gadhimai, but it is a potentially life-saving mission and we will do the very best we can for these animals. The Government of Bihar and the District Magistrates are to be congratulated for the exemplary job they have done thus far, and together we expect to be able to at least substantially reduce the number of animals sacrificed. We wish we could save them all, but we will do everything we can.”

The Gadhimai Festival in Bara district takes place every five years. It began on 15 November, 2014 with the sacrifice scheduled for November 28 and 29. The animals are sacrificed during a two-day ritual to appease Goddess Gadhimai, the largest religious slaughter in the world.

A Supreme Court Hearing will take place on 21 November, 2014.

Media Contact: Navamita Mukherjee, nmukherjee@hsi.org, +919985472760

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