Supreme Court of India Intervenes to Save Thousands of Animals from Nepal’s Brutal Gadhimai Festival Sacrifice

Humane Society International

  • Manoj Gautam/Animal Welfare Network Nepal

The Supreme Court of India passed an interim order directing the Union of India to prevent the illegal movement of animals across the border from India to Nepal, to be sacrificed at the Gadhimai Festival, scheduled to be held on 28-29 November. Approximately 70 percent of the animals to be sacrificed at the festival will come from India, so the immediate implementation of this order could have a significant impact on the event, even leading to the entire sacrifice being abandoned.

The animal movements are in violation of the Export-Import Policy of India and the Foreign Trade Act (Development and Regulation) Act 1992, which categorically places live cattle and buffalo in the restricted export category, requiring a license to legally export them. This rule is being openly flouted as the majority of animals are transported illegally across the border without an export license. The Court’s order was passed in direct response to an urgent petition submitted by Smt. Gauri Maulekhi, consultant to Humane Society International/India and Trustee of People for Animals.
N.G. Jayasimha, managing director of Humane Society International/India, said: “The Gadhimai Festival’s massacre of innocent animals is an unholy bloodbath that has no place whatsoever in religion. This mass slaughter of animals is not part of Hinduism and has been thoroughly and rightly rejected by the Hindu Council of Britain. The Supreme Court of India’s order offers a vital lifeline to the hundreds of thousands of animals being illegally taken across the border to be killed, and there is every chance that with this action we can prevent the killing going ahead this year. In a modern, civilised society we cannot continue to sanction the death of animals in the name of religion.”
The Festival is held in Nepal every five years and involves the barbaric ritual sacrifice of 500,000 animals including water buffalo, sheep, pigs, rats, pigeons and chickens over a two day period. The animals are killed in front of each other, using blunt knives and swords to cut their throats.
Justice Kehar of the Supreme Court of India observed that the sacrifice of animals at the Gadhimai Festival was “demeaning and cruel” and that such brutal treatment must not be meted out on India’s animals, referring to the fact that 70 percent of the animals sacrificed at the festival come from India.

The Court notice affects the Union of India and the four border States of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, from where a majority of the animals are transported illegally.     
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