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MLA rides bullock cart, presses for lifting ban on rural sport

A BJP MLA came to the state legislature here in a bullock cart as the budget session of the house began on Monday, demanding immediate resumption of cart races in the state lifting the ban on them.

The cart rode by Mahesh Landge, who holds the Bhosari seat in Pune district, was stopped near the Mantralayla (government secretariat), close to the legislature complex by police.

Langde said he took to the symbolic act as people in villages were keen on immediate resumption of cart races as the season of rural fairs is about to start.

“We are waiting for the Maharashtra government to bring in a bill to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, to pave the way for its centuries-old tradition of bullock cart racing,” said Landge.

When pointed out that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had already spoken of bringing in a bill to allow the bullock cart races, Landge said “we want the bill to be brought in the first week of the current session itself, as village jatras (rural fairs) are beginning and people are being denied of the races.”

“We had reached near Mantralaya, which is adjacent to Vidhan Bhawan, when police stopped us. We then took the bullock cart to the state BJP office, which is in the same area,” Landge said.

Animal rights activists have raised objections to the move to legalise the bullock cart races, saying it amounts to subjecting bulls to cruelty and torture.

Bullock cart races were banned in Maharashtra in 2011, after bulls were categorised as performing animals under the Act.

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