Shambo stand-off continues as officials sit outside padlocked gates

Welsh Assembly officials sit outside the padlocked gates of the Skanda Vale community contemplating their next move as the battle to remove Shambo, the “sacred” bullock belonging to the Hindu monks at the temple that was confirmed as infected bovine tuberculosis in May, rumbles on.

Welsh assembly officials say they could not serve the slaughter and entry warrents on the Skanda Vale monks, so they pinned them on the community notice board.

To see BBC video footage of the worship taking place outside Shambo’s shrine click here.

Currently the veterinary surgeonss, their four wheel drive vehicle and trailer along with two vans full of police are waiting outside the padlocked gates. Apparently they are reluctant to remove the chanting worshipers by force.

Earlier on Thursday (26 July) a crowd of nearly 150 supporters greeted health officials from the Welsh Assembly with passive resistance when they arrived at the Skanda Vale community.

The officials arrived with the intention of removing Shambo, a bullock considered “sacred” by the Hindu members of the ashram, but which tested positive for bovine tuberculosis earlier this year.

Following a decision by the High Court in London veterinary surgeons re-presented the slaughter notice originally issued in May.

But monks led by Brother Michael very politely refused the officials entry to the site because no warrant had been issued allowing access to the private land at Llanpumsaint in Carmarthenshire.

“We were aware this may happen, but we have to be denied access before we can obtain a warrant,” a Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said.

Officials and police returned to the community five hours later with a warrant issued by Carmarthen Magistrates.

They found that people attending a vigil outside the temple housing the bullock, including some who had travelled from Asia and many European countries to form a human shield, were prepared to sit until they were carried away.

Community leaders said veterinary surgeons would have to move the disciples and desecrate a Hindu altar to reach the shrine housing Shambo.

A Skanda Vale spokeswoman told Farmers Weekly that the community opposed violence, but supporters were prepared to make things very difficult for the Welsh assembly officials.

Live radio coverage of the continuing stand off is being monitored by farming unions at the Royal Welsh Show.

Dai Davies, president of NFU Cymru, said he hoped that the bullock could be removed without anyone getting hurt, and without too much distress to the animal.

“Culling reactors is the only weapon we have to fight this terrible disease and no exception can be made on religious grounds,” Mr Davies claimed.

Updates will follow as news comes in.