Asia

Traders in south India state pull Coke, Pepsi products in anger at PETA

Traders angry at a US-based animal rights group have turned their ire on two iconic American brands, pulling Coke and Pepsi from shelves in the south India state of Tamil Nadu.

The Tamil Nadu Traders Association said the soft-drink makers were draining too much water in the state but that they targeted the American brands because PETA had pushed the 2014 ban on the popular local tradition of bull-taming.

The trading association said its ban that went into effect late Wednesday was supported by more than 1.5 million local shop owners and beverage sellers.

In a separate case, a court Thursday lifted restrictions on water supplies to Coke and Pepsi factories in the drought-prone state.

In January, Tamil Nadu was rocked by protests by tens of thousands of people demanding that the ban on bull-taming, or jallikattu, be lifted. The government rushed new legislation exempting the tradition from animal cruelty laws.

During the protests, thousands of young people turned their anger against the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to other American multinational companies and vowed to shun sodas made by them. Traders pledged that they would not sell colas and would instead stock locally made soft drinks or coconut water.

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"On March 1, following a campaign among traders and the public against foreign brands, we implemented the decision of our association members to sell only domestic brands of beverages," said A. M. Vikrama Raja, president of the trade group.

In the court case, the Madras High Court announced that it was removing restrictions on the supply of water to Coca Cola and PepsiCo.'s factories in Tamil Nadu.

In November, the court had barred the two companies from using local water supplies after farmers complained about water shortages in the state's Tirunelvelli district where the factories were located.