The International Society for Krishna Consciousness on Friday sent a Rs 100 crore defamation notice to Bharatiya Janata Party MP Maneka Gandhi for saying that the religious organisation sells its cows to butchers.
ISKCON is based on an ancient monotheistic strain of Hinduism and its followers worship the Hindu deity Krishna. It has a considerable following across the world.
In a video that went viral on social media on Tuesday, Gandhi called the religious group the “biggest cheater” in India while recalling her visit to ISKCON’s cowshed in Anantapur city of Andhra Pradesh.
“There was no dry cow in the entire dairy,” she declared. “Not a single calf was there. It means all were sold.”
A dry cow is one that has not been milked for some time.
The former Union minister and animal rights activist accused ISKCON of establishing cowsheds and earning “unlimited benefits” from the government. “And they go on and sing ‘Hare Ram Hare Krishna’ on the roads and say their entire life is dependent on milk,” she added. “Probably, no one has sold as many cattle to the butchers as they did.”
In a statement on Friday, ISKCON said the accusations are malicious, false and defamatory.
Radharamn Das, vice president of ISKCON Kolkata, wrote that the organisation “will not leave any stone unturned in our pursuit of justice against the fallacious propaganda”.
ISKCON asked Gandhi to withdraw her remarks and issue an unconditional apology, which it demanded be published in all leading newspapers and on social media platforms.
“Your false remarks and allegations have caused severe damage to my client’s reputation,” the defamation notice said. “Your statements were made to sensationalise and instigate the general public and members, followers of my client into believing the veracity of the statement and to bring my client odium and public contempt.”