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Court Blocks India's Cow Slaughter Ban

Activists of the youth wing of India's ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party shout slogans as they are detained during a protest against the slaughter of a calf by Congress party's youth wing members, in New Delhi, May 30, 2017.

A high court in Southern India temporarily blocked a government ban on the sale of cows for slaughter that was imposed last week.

The Madras High Court in the state of Tamil Nadu gave federal and state governments four weeks from Tuesday to respond to an appeal to the new law, based on the grounds that an individual has the basic right to choose his food.

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu Nationalist government passed a law requiring sellers and buyers of cattle to pledge in writing that the animals, which are considered sacred by Hindus, will not be slaughtered for food.

The slaughter of cows is banned in most states in India, but beef is consumed fairly commonly in a number of states in the South and in the Northeast.

Young people in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala organized "beef fests" over the past few days, cooking and eating the meat in protest of the ban.

A number of state governments have criticized the ban on economic terms, claiming that hundreds of thousands of beef and leather exporters could be jobless.

Radical Hindu groups have called on Modi to institute a nationwide ban on cow slaughter since he came to power in 2014. At least a dozen people, mostly Muslims, have been killed by such groups over accusations that they had been eating or smuggling beef.