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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Court orders release for 'monkey god'
A monkey in an Indian habitat
Hindus revere monkeys as divine beings

A court in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has ordered the state authorities to help free a monkey that has been confined inside a temple for the last month.

The monkey has been kept within the temple's inner-most chambers in the belief that it is the reincarnation of a much loved Hindu monkey god - Hanuman.

The court issued the orders in response to a writ petition filed by an animal rights group, Karuna, based in Anantapur.

The bench directed the Anantapur district superintendent of police to send a team of veterinary doctors to examine the condition of the monkey and treat it as necessary.

The court also asked the police to extend all necessary help in securing the monkey's freedom.

Devotees

A spokesperson from the animal rights group, Gangi Reddy, said the monkey was locked up after local people spotted it perched atop an idol of Hanuman in a deserted temple on 1 August.

Devotees mistook the monkey to be a reincarnation of Hanuman and the animal has been forcibly confined within the temple's inner sanctum ever since.

Local officials say hundreds of devotees throng the temple every day to pay their respects to the monkey.

But the court has directed local authorities to examine the entire episode and investigate allegations that the monkey is being used to exploit religious sentiments and make money.

Meanwhile, a veterinary doctor who examined the monkey says the animal is in good health - and seems unwilling to leave the temple premises.

See also:

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