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September 8, 2000
'Dancing cow' follows Vajpayee around US
A fluffy dancing cow is following Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee around the United States to protest against the suffering of cattle which are 'slaughtered for leather and meat' in India.
Jason Baker, India representative for the US-based animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said on Friday that the cow would dog Vajpayee and his delegation from the United Nations to the White House.
"It will be outside the UN and in front of the White House, and when he speaks to Congress our dancing cow will be there again," Baker said. "We're going to be there until Vajpayee really does something for cows."
The cow, a man in a seven-foot costume with a giant head, will be holding a sign for the visiting prime minister reading: 'Vajpayee: Stop Cruel Cattle Transport'.
PETA, which estimates around 13 million cows are slaughtered in India every year for beef and hide, says the animals face cruel treatment in the country despite their sacred status in Hinduism.
Cows are sacred to Hindus, who make up roughly 80 per cent of India's population of one billion, and the slaughter of cattle is banned in all but two states.
An Indian minister said earlier this year that cows are transported by government-run trains to West Bengal, where cattle slaughter is allowed, ostensibly for milk and farming, but they end up in the state's slaughterhouses.
"The cows and calves are marched to slaughter for days and crammed into lorries, causing many to suffocate, all in direct violation of the Constitution of India," PETA said in a statement.
"Those who collapse from exhaustion or injury have their eyes smeared with chilli peppers and tobacco and their tailbones continuously broken in an effort to keep them moving."
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