After the Maharashtra government passed legislation amendment in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act 1960 and lift the ban on bullock cart races in the state, stating the amended Act will ensure participating animals are not harmed and violators would be penalised, animal rights organisation PETA, which has alleged that bulls are treated cruelly during the races, said it will challenge the Bill and raised the question when this government is worshipping the cow then why showing too much cruelty towards bullock.
Dr. Manilal Valliyante, Director of Veterinary Affairs, PETA India, said, “This new fashion of justifying any cruelty to animals by simply labelling it tradition, whether it is to deliberately terrify bulls for Jallikattu or to whip animals for bullock cart races here in Maharashtra, is one that urgently needs to be put out of style. ”
He said the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) will study the amendment allowing bull races and challenge it in an appropriate court of law.
Another animal activist, Jitesh Jotwani, a member of the organisation People for Animals, alleges that the lifting of the ban portrays the “hypocritical attitude” of the government. “On one hand, the BJP government is protecting and worshipping cows and on the other hand, they are being cruel to the male species of the breed,” he alleged.
But now, as the world moves towards passing laws to ban bull-fighting, the use of animals in circuses and other events, allowing bullock cart races shows that Maharashtra, a state where beef is banned, has chosen to take a hypocritical, backward stance simply to please a few, he added.
Farmers, who have practised bullock cart racing as a part of their tradition and culture, had been protesting against the ban since it was enforced in the state in 2014 following the Supreme Court order.
The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly passed a Bill to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 paving way to legalize the bullock cart races in the state. The Bill was tabled in the Lower House by Animal Husbandry Minister, Mahadev Jankar, the assembly passed bill proposing amending the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, which legalizes bullock cart race in the state.
The provision of the fine of up to Rs. 5 lakh or imprisonment of three years has also been made in the bill if any cruelty to the animal is proved during the event.
The bill, which has been passed by the legislative assembly, will now be tabled before the Legislative Council for the approval. Last week, the state Cabinet had decided to appoint a cabinet sub-committee to study the draft of the amendment bill to revoke the ban on bullock-cart racing.
The reasoning given to the amendment is to follow and promote tradition and culture and ensure the preservation of native breeds of bulls as also their purity, safety, security, and well-being. Bullock cart races will be allowed in any district where it is being traditionally held at such places.
While tabling the bill, Animal Husbandry Minister Mahadev Jankar said, “Amendment was being made to the central act, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, in view of the vital role of the bullock cart race in preserving and promoting the tradition and culture.”
He said there was also a need to ensure survival and continuance of the native breed of bulls.
As per the provision of the new law, ambulance facility too would be made available for the bulls during the races, the minister said.
The legislation defined the bullock cart race as an event involving bulls or bullocks to conduct a race with the animals tied to a cart by a wooden yoke, with or without a cartman. The rural sport is known as ‘bailgada sharyat,’ ‘chhakadi’ or ‘shankarpath’ in the state.