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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Animal rights group targets Indian leather
An India family with its cattle
Several Indian states have made the slaughter of cows illegal
Animal rights activists in India are claiming a campaign against the leather industry is having a huge financial impact.

Pressure group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals [Peta] says that many international firms, including Gap, Banana Republic, Nike and DaimlerChrysler, have stopped buying leather from India.

Peta spokeswoman, Porva Joshipura, claimed that such boycotts have cost the industry as much as $20m.

But Mohammad Hashim from the Council of Leather Exporters disputes activists' claims.

"I do not know how they get this figure," he told the BBC's World Business Report.

"The year before last there was an increase in exports of 25% in dollar figures."

Who is responsible?

The leather industry employs more than 2.5 million people in India, many of whom are among the poorest members of society.

Its turnover is estimated to be around $4bn a year.

But Ms Joshipura said the industry in India is ignoring even the most basic animal protection laws.

"Cows, buffalos, goats and other animals are still being roughly goaded onto vehicles in such illegally high numbers that their bones literally break, their necks are dislocated, they suffocate and they inadvertently gauge each other and many die," she said.

Star backing

Peta is campaigning worldwide on this issue, but said it was concentrating on countries which import the most leather from India.

Former Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson has backed the campaign.

But Mr Hashim said the leather industry was not responsible for the inhumane treatment of animals.

"We will buy the leather in the market when it is available," he said.

"Human treatment, inhumane treatment of the animal is nothing to do with the leather industry."

Mr Hashim added that inhuman treatment of an animal actually damages the hide.

Cows are venerated by the majority Hindu population in India and several states have made their slaughter illegal.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Mohammad Hashim, Council of Leather Exporters
"We are not responsible for the inhumane treatment of animals"
Peta spokeswoman Porva Joshipura
"In India even the most basic animal protection laws are totally ignored"
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23 Aug 01 | Business
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