Tamil Nadu’s popular bull taming sport, Jallikattu, was on Sunday held in parts of Tamil Nadu with tens of thousands taking part but two participants were killed at one of the events.
It was held at Pudukottai, Trichy and Erode districts while a bullock cart race was organised in Coimbatore, organisers said. At Pudukottai, two participants were severely injured and died on the way to a hospital, police said.
The sport involves young men latching on to the hump of bulls. One who manages to stay put even after the animal makes three jumps is declared a winner. At times, the participants are thrown off the back of bulls or get gored by the animal.
The events were held after week-long state-wide protests by students and youths and followed the promulgation of an ordinance by the Tamil Nadu government amending the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to hold Jallikatttu. The sport was banned by the Supreme Court in May 2014.
But Jallikattu did not take place in Alanganallur in Madurai district as no preparation had been done there, the organisers said. Attempts to hold the event at Natham Kovilpatti in Dindigul district was not successful due to protests against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam’s wish to flag it off.
Speaking to reporters in Madurai on his way back to Chennai, the Chief Minister said: “Jallikattu is being held at several places in the state with proper arrangements. At Alanganallur it will be held when the people want it. “Jallikattu cannot be stopped by anybody,” Panneerselvam added.
The AIADMK leader said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to assist the state government in its efforts to hold Jallikattu. The government will on Monday place in the assembly a bill for holding Jallikattu.
It is expected to pass with majority support. Meanwhile, the massive youth protest in Chennai’s Marina Beach entered its seventh day on Sunday. The protest that started with a handful of a people on January 17 morning is now attracting lakhs to the beach daily.
DMK leader M.K. Stalin urged Panneerselvam to explain to the demonstrators the steps the government will take so that there will not be any more legal impediments for the conduct of Jallikatttu.
The Supreme Court in 2014 banned Jallikattu, saying that bulls cannot be used as performing animals including in bullock cart races. Since then, people have been urging the central government to take steps to allow the sport.
On Sunday, R Arul, Secretary of Pasumai Thayagam, a Tamil group, told IANS: “All that the central government has to do is to remove the bull from the list of performing animals in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Is issuing a notification such a big issue?”
Despite Jallikattu being held in parts of Tamil Nadu, many do not hide their anger vis-a-vis the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Modi and Panneerselvam.
The anger against PETA is the most severe. Many want the group banned for what they say is its opposition to Indian culture and tradition.