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Beatle to PM: Save India's cows

Beatle to PM: Save India's cows

Abhik Sen
The Asian Age
March 9, 2000
Title: Beatle to PM: Save India's cows
Author: Abhik Sen
Publication: Asian Age
Date: March 9, 2000.

Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney is writing a letter to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee urging him to take firm measures to stop the cruelty involved in the largescale slaughter of cows in India.
The letter, to be delivered to the PM next week, slams India for the maltreatment of animals and the corruption rife in the country's leather industry.
Meanwhile, animal rights groups, with the support of celebrities, have launched a campaign against the use of Indian leather by big fashion houses. Baywatch star and pin-up model Pamela Anderson Lee, narrator of a video exposé documenting violations of India's animal protection laws, has sent copies of the video to high-profile fashion designers in the West who get their leather from India, and asked them to stop using Indian leather.
On Thursday, activists led by The Pretenders vocalist Chrissie Hynde launched a protest against the trendy clothing label, Gap, for using Indian leather in its latest collection. Hynde has also turned down Gap's offer of $100,000 to use one of her hit songs in its latest "Everybody in Leather" TV commercial.
"The Constitution of India prohibits the slaughter of cows and calves, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act mandates humane treatment for all animals but almost all laws relating to cow slaughter are flouted in India. It is the second biggest exporter of leather after China but the treatment of animals is horrendous. Restrictions on transportation are also ignored. The developed world is as guilty for exporting its worst practices to India to satisfy its appetite for cheap leather," Ms Ingrid Newkirk, director of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (UK), told  The Asian Age.
"Paul is writing to the Indian Prime Minister with the plea that the treatment of cows deserves the urgent attention of the government," she added. Peta recently handed over the findings of its investigation into the treatment of animals and  malpractices in the leather industry to the Indian government with a plea for swift action.
But, according to Peta activists, the response has been  discouraging. Campaigners are particularly disheartened by the fact that cows are treated so cruelly in India, a land where they are supposed to be sacred, but where "Western demand for cheap leather has spawned a grotesquely cruel underground industry." The Peta investingation found that  although it is illegal to slaughter cows in most states, skin-traders use bribes to smuggle the animals at night. The cows and calves are marched for days to slaughter in gross violation of laws. "Those who collapse from exhaustion have their eyes smeared with chillies and tobacco and sometimes their tails are broken to ensure they keep on moving," said Ms Newkirk.
In the video, Pamela Anderson Lee narrates: "In India, cows have been revered for thousands of years-seen as the symbol of motherhood and givers of life. But now, these animals are being killed. Why? Not just for meat-although what little flesh they have on their bones is exported to Muslim countries. The big demand is from the United States and Europe, and it's for their skin."
The Peta probe also revealed that as most of the meat from Indian cattle is meant for export to Muslim countries the cattle are supposed to be killed in the halal tradition. But the process, which requires a quick slice across the throat with a sharp knife, is often forsaken for indiscriminate hacking and sawing. "India's leather industry is perhaps the most cruel in the world. Since it is illegal to kill healthy, young cattle, they are often deliberately maimed. Their legs are often broken or they are poisoned so that they can be declared fit for slaughter," the report claimed.
Peta investigators also discovered that cattle are not the only animals killed for their skins. While horses, sheep, lambs, goats and pigs are routinely slaughtered after suffering the horrors of factory farming, other species are hunted and killed specifically for their skins, including zebras, bison, boars, deer, kangaroos, elephants, eels, sharks, dolphins, seals, walruses, frogs, crocodiles, lizards and snakes. "Rats, cats and stray dogs are also killed for leather, but since people are typically put off by this fact, it is passed off as simply 'leather,'" the report noted.

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