Right-wing Hindus revel in 'mad cow' scare
March 29, 1995
Web posted at: 2:25 p.m. EST
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Right-wing Hindu groups in India, where most people consider cows divine creatures, are relishing the recent 'mad cow' scare spreading through Europe, insisting that Western meat eaters are being punished for their carnivorous ways.
Acharya Giriraj Kishore, leader of a prominent Hindu group, is among the millions of Indians for whom eating beef is taboo. He said butchering cattle is a sin.
"I feel that the West is being punished by God due to their brutal killing habits," Acharya said.
Acharya's group is currently waging a campaign against the slaughter of cows in India. Many states here already have banned the practice, but other haven't, and beef is still widely consumed by the country's Muslim and Christian population.
In Indian mythology, cattle enjoy the status of divine beings. As providers of milk, they are considered sacred life-givers, and their dung is used by millions of Indians as fuel, fertilizer and insecticide.
Acharya's campaign against cow slaughter is concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of the country, where the population of Muslims and Christians is highest. The groups have protested the fact that Indian cows are sent to Muslim- dominated Bangladesh for slaughter, and that Indian beef is exported to the Middle East.
In the past, Acharya's group also led the protest against the Babri Mosque, which was torn down by militant Hindus in 1992. The mosque was built by a medieval Muslim conqueror on a site Hindus believe to be the birthplace of Lord Rama.
Now Acharya's group has declared 1996 as the cow protection year, and the mad cow disease that has become Britain's curse is the group's blessing. Acharya, a former professor of Indian history and a Hindu activist for 50 years, sees the mad cow disease as a message from God that the world should follow the Hindu way of life.
To the nervous, beef-eating population of the world, Acharya offers a simple solution.
And if the world continues to insist on eating beef, he said, they risk inviting the wrath of the gods.
From Correspondent Anita Pratap
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