India cow row 'settled by DNA tests'

The disputed cow Both the women claimed ownership of the cow, which was even produced in court

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A woman in the southern Indian state of Kerala is set to win a court battle to keep a cow after DNA tests proved it belongs to her, her lawyer says.

The woman, TS Sashilekha, had been accused by her neighbour Geetha of stealing the animal.

The acrimonious dispute even saw the cow in question appear in court.

It is thought to be the first time an ownership battle over an animal has been decided by DNA tests in India, where Hindus consider cows to be holy.

The legal battle between the two women began last year when Geetha claimed that a cow in her herd was the mother of the disputed animal.

But DNA tests ordered by the court did not match, meaning that Sashilekha will get to keep the cow.

"The one-year-long dispute over the ownership of the cow is now settled. The DNA report arrived earlier this month. Now the court will pass a final order, allowing Sashilekha to retain possession of her cow," N Chandra Babu, lawyer for Sashilekha, told the BBC.

"It is a rare case and possibly the first of its kind in history. Perhaps this is the first time a DNA test was held on a cow to find out its real owner."

Mr Babu said he was "planning to seek compensation from the complainant and file a defamation case against her for undue mental agony inflicted on my client".

In the complaint she filed in 2013, Geetha said that she had "about 15 cows and one of these, Karthika, had given birth to the missing cow".

After the disputed cow was produced in court, Sashilekha was allowed to keep it in her possession - but only after paying 45,000 rupees ($745; £448) in securities.

Correspondents say many families in Kerala are farmers who make a living through cattle-breeding.

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