Cow eviction drives American couple to India

Indo-Asian News Service, May 16, 2003

A US court has ordered the eviction of two “sacred cows” and other farm animals from the homes of an American couple who are part of the Hare Krishna movement, prompting them to seek asylum in India.

Steven and Linda Voith, who stay in the village of Angelica in New York state, said they were targeted because they considered cows sacred.

“We are followers of Krishna Bhaktivedanta. The cows are sacred to us. We are against cow slaughter. That’s the reason we are being targeted,” Steven said.

He said he has sought asylum in India for himself and his family, including two children adopted from India. He has written to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and India’s Ambassador to the U.S. Lalit Mansingh.

The New York Supreme Court in Allegany County passed the eviction order last week.

Attorney Raymond Bulson, who represented the village of Angelica in the case, said the Voith family did not have a valid animal permit to house cows and other farm animals and hence the litigation against them.

“For a valid animal permit to keep farm animals you need at least 10 acres of land. The rules say that. But the Voiths have only 2.5 acres,” he said.

But John Curr, the assistant director for the Western Regional Office of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said: “Steven and Linda Voith have been a target of religious persecution by the people of the village of Angelica.

“They site health and safety issues. It is ludicrous. One can see more farm animals in houses next to the Voiths, than in their own farm.”

Curr said he was in touch with the Voiths and their attorney and looking at options to appeal in higher courts and stay the injunction.

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