A Reaction to Appellate
 Court Judgment
 
BY: NITIN TALSANIA

May 06, USA (SUN) Reply to the New York Appellate Court decision against the Voith's right to keep cows.

This is an unfair judgment. Once again the powerful locals have been able to influence this case unjustly against the Voiths. It is hard to comprehend that in a cow countryside of upstate New York, which is surrounded by more cattle head than human heads, that a couple of sacred or pet cows would create such a problem for the local government. The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court has dared not to make an iota of difference by maintaining the status quo....so much so that they have completely ignored all the other relevant facts including those very valid arguments of - lack of past due process, local bias by officials and valid clear cut religious considerations that justify the keeping of the Voith cows. They didn't even look at the Amicus Brief our organizations submitted. It is as if they had predetermined that nothing else was relevant and was going to matter in any way. As fair as this great country is, this is a lesson for all of us to be aware, alert and vigilant about such injustices sneaking in from time to time.

How can an unjustly applied subjective local ordinance override all other valid considerations in this case when there are so many examples to the contrary? It is but natural for the Voiths to feel that a very different standard is being used against them. How else can you explain the fact that there are slaughter cows all around the Voiths but only the Voiths' holy cows are denied permission? Their neighbors across from them have had no problems. There are no restrictions on how many cows others can keep while the Voiths were originally denied permission for just 2 or 3 cows. Some of the residents have been keeping cows for decades without any restrictions. Some have had less land than the Voiths do.

So the irony of the situation is that they are treating the farm cows to be used for slaughter as privileged cows , as if rules don't matter, while the true religious pet cows who are in no way farm animals are being treated as unwanted animals with all sorts of unfair restrictions. In our Amicus brief, we (JAINA) had warned the courts to not allow the misuse of local ordinances as a means of discrimination by the local government. This is exactly what they have once again allowed to happen.

The Voith family has endured tremendous personal hardships but as hard as it has been for the last several years, they have stayed the course because they have believed in the principle of religious freedom and civil rights that the US constitution guarantees. Very few of us would make such personal sacrifices for our convictions, but the Voiths, as true Hindus did not give up. Because they saw this cause beyond their own personal issue and one affecting the entire Hindu community in the US.

Knowing the Voiths, in spite of financial and personal challenges, I don't think they are likely to give up at this critical juncture. If I have to predict, the case will end up in the country's highest supreme court where they will get a fair trial and end up winning ultimately. This is already creating a stir in the Hindu community all over the world. It is becoming a rallying point for the community and for organizations that support the religious rights of minorities.

For now, the judgment has to be accepted even if it is viewed as a temporary setback so they can go back to the drawing boards and restrategize.

Irrespective of the path the Voiths choose or the final outcome of their case and irrespective of whether their intentions and their efforts receive the recognition and support they deserve, there is no doubt in my mind that the Voiths have secured a significant place in the history of the Hindu religion in the western world.