A woman gets 12–year jail sentence for butchering a cow
by Prakash Dubey
The sentence was passed just two weeks after the "crime" was reported. Eating cows is not a sin for Tibetan Buddhists, but Nepalese law bans the practice. For a human rights activist and a Hindu scholar the ban is used to swiftly punish people considered troublemakers.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – A Buddhist woman, Kripa Bhoteni, was sentenced to 12 years in jail by a court in Sankhuwasabha, north-eastern Nepal, for butchering a cow. The police launched its investigation two weeks ago and the legal system was quick in passing judgement. In the Himalayan kingdom slaughtering bovines is considered a very serious crime that can be punished with the death penalty.

"The court was indeed quick in dealing with the case. But it is mind boggling that our Nepalese courts rarely show such urgency in murder cases. It is a tragedy that the life of cow is more important than a human life," lamented Pawan Shrestha, a Buddhist human rights activist.
For Shrestha, although Nepal is officially a Hindu Kingdom, "only 20 per cent belong to Vedic-Sanatani Hinduism, which considers beef eating a taboo and a great sin. Most people practice other cults like Buddhism and Animism".

"Butchering cows is banned in Nepal," he added, "but the truth is that almost all the people living in the high Himalayas near Tibet are of Tibetan-Mongol stock, followers of Lamaism or Mahayana-Tantrik Buddhism which do not prohibit eating beef and killing cows. Despite the ban locals do kill cows for meat. Actually, cows are the main source of meat in this cold region."

"But when some police officer or civilian official has a grudge against someone, they conveniently file charges against their victims and get prompt punishment, which is what happened in Bhoteni's case," Shrestha explained.

Unlike cattle found in plains of Nepal, those in the high Himalayan-Tibetan regions are not of the same breed. "They are actually Yaks," Shrestha said. "Even Tibetan Lamas including the Dalai Lama eat yak meat. At least, the Dalai Lama did until he became a vegetarian as he grew old. The poor woman Bhoteni didn't and so she killed the calf as she is used to do to eat the meat. She had no intention offending hardcore Hindus' sentiments. As a matter of fact, there are no Hindu residents in the region except for outside police, civilian or military personnel posted here."
"It is true that indigenous Tibetan tribes that straddle the border region eat beef," said a Hindu expert of Nepalese indigenous groups. "It is part of their culture and food habits. Everyone knows it. However, sometimes they become victims of vendettas and end up languishing in jail like Ms Bhoteni. The state ought to change such archaic laws and realise that for some indigenous communities cows are not sacred animals."

""We Hindus have no right to foist our culture or customs upon them. This is an era of democracy and globalisation and such cultural tyranny is dangerous as it alienates local communities and gives Maoist guerrillas an opportunity to profit from sectarian tensions between Buddhist tribes and Hindus".