Indian Hindu activists take down floating cow exhibit

AP News
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Posted: Nov 22, 2015 6:54 AM

JAIPUR, India (AP) — Right-wing Hindu activists have taken down an exhibit of a Styrofoam cow that was suspended in midair using a balloon, organizers of an art fair in western India and police said Sunday.

R.B. Gauttam, an organizer of the Jaipur Art Summit, said that the exhibit was meant to highlight how cows suffer after ingesting plastic waste at India's many garbage dumps. The activists, however, deemed the exhibit offensive and took it down on Saturday.

Cows are revered by India's majority Hindus, and the slaughter of the animals is banned in several Indian states.

"The activists claimed that the cow in the exhibit looked like it was hanging from a noose and that was disrespectful," Gauttam said. "They argued with us and took the cow down and even put a garland around it."

The cow exhibit continued to be a part of the art fair, but on Sunday it was no longer in midair.

Gauttam said the activists were just "looking for any type of publicity." Mahendra Singh, a police official, said the incident was being investigated.

In recent months, violence based on rumors of beef-eating by India's Muslim minority has spiked. A man was beaten to death by a mob over rumors his family had eaten beef, and two others were killed for allegedly transporting cows for slaughter.

Over the last several weeks, dozens of Indian intellectuals, writers, scientists and filmmakers have blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party for not speaking out against such brutal religious attacks. They say the government's silence has encouraged hard-line Hindu fringe groups to terrorize minorities and assert Hindu superiority.