[dropcap]T[/dropcap]housands of protesters thronged at Marina Beach in Chennai against a court ban on Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu’s popular but controversial bull-taming sport played during Pongal festivities in mid-January. Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated at a meeting with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam that the centre will not issue an ordinance or executive order to remove a Supreme Court ban on the bull taming sport. The apex court had banned Jallikattu in 2014 on the petition by animal rights activists who say the centuries old festival is causing cruelty against bulls. The court later rejected a Tamil Nadu petition seeking a review of its decision and last year also stayed a notification by the Centre allowing Jallikattu.
Animal rights activists allege that the organisers of Jallikattu drug the bulls to make them unsteady and throw chilli powder on its faces to agitate them as they are released from a holding pen. In Chennai, thousands of protesters camped at the famous Marina Beach for over 36 hours, saying they will not leave till the ban on Jallikattu is lifted. The protesters have set a 5 pm deadline for the Tamil Nadu government to make an announcement. The spontaneous uprising, which has resonated across the world, has so far been completely peaceful, but authorities are worried as more and more people arrive at the beach front.
Traditions need to be followed and preserved for the race and culture, but at the same time if the same tradition is causing cruelty somewhere it should be amended. People killing animals and trying to justify in the name of religion and tradition is pure politics than the emotions. Knowingly, killing animals cannot be part of any peaceful religious practice. Everybody, for their own selfish reasons of retaining their support base, is justifying the cause. Anyway, our ancestors had more guts to change religious practices in need but we lack even that.
Now, some readers may land up asking my stance on Bakra Eid, Thanks Giving Day or other types of killings too, or slaughtering millions of Goats by cutting their throats half and bleeding them to death. Yes that too is cruelty, but can you stop eating non-vegetarian food? I am a pure vegetarian Brahmin and for me cruelty meted against any living species is crime. Still, what is the relation between non-veg eating to do with Jallikattu like cruelty to bull? It means if you kill to eat I will kill for fun? So, finally torturing of bulls by drunken rowdies should be declared an Olympic sport so that Jallikattu will continue? The political frauds are funding this protest to gain mileage. Let’s see, where it ends. When ‘Sati Pratha’ like inhuman practices was banned in India, similar upsurge had occurred. Let the Supreme Court not succumb to mob pressure, let it protect and preserve humaneness and ignore the shouting of violent ignorant.
In 2004, at least five people were reported dead and several hundreds injured. Over 200 have died due to the sport over the past two decades. Unlike in Spanish bullfighting, the bull is not killed and there are rarely any casualties suffered by the animal. Animal activists have objected to the sport over the years. The Animal Welfare Board of India filed a petition in the Supreme Court for an outright ban on Jallikattu because of the cruelty meted against animals and the threat to public safety involved. People pierce the animal with very sharp objects, pour irritants on the bull’s eyes, bite and twist its tail to make them surrender. Bulls are fed liquor. This injustice needs to be stopped immediately. But no politician cares about the atrocities committed against animals, everyone is hungry for votes.
On 27 November 2010, the Supreme Court in accordance with the law enacted on the regulation of events, permitted the Tamil Nadu government to allow Jallikattu for five months in a year from January 15. The court also directed the District Collectors to make sure that the animals that participate in Jallikattu are registered with the Animal Welfare Board and in return the Board would send its representative to monitor the event. The state government ordered that Rs. Two lakhs be deposited by the organisers for the benefit of the victims which also include his family, in case of an accident or injury during the event. The government also enacted a rule to allow a team of veterinarians would be present at the venue for testing and certifying the bulls for participation in the event to provide treatment for bulls that get injured.
However, on 7th May 2014, the Supreme Court of India banned Jallikattu. The court struck down a 2011 Tamil Nadu law regulating the conduct of Jallikattu and the judges also asked the centre to amend the law on preventing cruelty against animals to bring bulls within its ambit.
On 8 January, 2016 the central government permitted continuation of the sport in Tamil Nadu. There are many cruel traditions that are banned in India looking at human welfare; Jallikattu is also on the same line. We, as a nation, cannot behave responsibly when it comes to drinking alcohol or playing lottery (when both were part of our tradition and culture). We got lottery banned and now want alcohol to be prohibited? People involved in Jallikattu often abuse themselves and the bull, and that is not going to end unless we as a nation cannot control our own drinking or gambling habits. How can we expect them to take care of the Bull, when they cannot take care of themselves and seek political support to ban alcohol and gambling? The process of preparing the bulls before the event has to be stopped. We need to spread more awareness against such cruel sports.
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