Massive protests in support of Jallikattu continued for the third day on Thursday at the Marina in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu, with hundreds more joining the agitation.
Unfazed by Chief Minister O Panneerselvam’s call to withdraw protests, thousands of volunteers remained steadfast on their demand for holding the bull-taming sport in the state. They vowed to continue the stir till they got a positive response on it.
Agitations continued in various parts of the state, including Alanganallur, the usual hub of the Jallikattu event, with students and many others joining the stir.
In Madurai, District Collector Veeraraghava Rao said the protests against the ban on Jallikattu in the last few days had been peaceful.
He told the protesters that the government was taking “all efforts to organise Jallikattu.”
“Jallikattu is part of Tamil culture and was necessary to protect the culture. Just as we rear cows in our house and do pooja, we also rear bull and hold bull games… it was in our culture. There is nothing wrong in fighting for protecting the culture. But it should be peaceful”, he told them.
Those participating in the protest were being provided food and water. They are at the same venue since the agitation started, he said.
In Tiruchirappalli, protests continued for the the second day today and it did not affect the normal life of people.
The protesters wanted an order from the Supreme Court, which imposed a ban on Jallikattu, in favour of the the sport striking a balance between the sentiments of Tamil Nadu people and the animal lovers.
The protesters also demanded a ban on PETA, which opposes the bull taming sport.
In Puducherry, students of various educational institutions continued their agitation in favour of the bull taming sport boycotting classes for the second day.
Thousands of students from various institutions and volunteers of various youth outfits were holding protests in the sprawling AFT mill ground on Puducherry-Cuddalore road raising slogans in support of Jallikattu and seeking ban on PETA.
Members of various non-political outfits also formed a human chain in the city to register their solidarity with the agitation.
OPS stays back in New Delhi after unfruitful talks with PM
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Panneerselvam cancelled his return to Chennai and held discussions with the state’s Additional Advocate General Subramonium Prasad on the issue of how to ensure Jallikattu.
The chief minister is understood to have discussed the option of promulgating an ordinance and sought opinion whether it could be sustained in the face of the Supreme Court being seized of the matter.
According to an official statement, the chief minister extended his stay in the capital and is personally supervising the developments in the state.
He is giving necessary directions to the officials concerned, it said.
Earlier in the day, the chief minister met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought promulgation of an ordinance to allow Jallikattu amid wide protests in his state against the ban on the annual bull taming sport.
Prime Minister Modi, however, expressed the government’s inability to promulgate an ordinance on the issue.
Modi told the Chief Minister that he fully understood and respected the sentiments of Tamil Nadu people on the Jallikattu issue.
“I am aware of the feelings of the people of Tamil Nadu on the issue,” Modi was quoted by the chief minister as having told him.
After the Chief Minister pressed for immediate steps for promulgation of an ordinance, the Prime Minister told him that the Supreme Court was yet to give its verdict on the notification of the government on the issue but the Centre would support any steps taken by the state government on this.
The chief minister said he told the Prime Minister that Jallikattu is a traditional right of Tamil Nadu and a sport symbolising bravery and that it should be allowed.
PETA may take legal route if Centre brings ordinance
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals-India said it may take the legal route if the Centre brings an ordinance to enable the conduct of Jallikattu or continue its campaign to create awareness against the holding of the bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu.
“Our campaign is against cruelty towards all animals. We will consult our lawyers and take a decision if there is an ordinance,” PETA spokesperson Manilal Valliyate said.
The animal rights body also claimed that certain native breeds of bulls became extinct because of “white revolution” and “cross-breeding programmes”.
“There are various other humane conservation methods to protect the indigenous breed. Jallikattu is not the only way,” Valliyate said.
“The Tamil Nadu government had initiated many conservation programmes in the 1980s. Though Jallikattu was played during that time, the decline was because of the cross-breeding programme during milk revolution,” he said.
“In Jallikattu, the cruelty is inherent and you have to agitate the prey animal to run or react to the threatening situation. There is necessary and unnecessary suffering. Jallikattu is an entertainment and falls under unnecessary suffering. The court has also ruled that if there is a conflict between tradition and law, the law takes precedence. To respect the law and SC judgement, we are supporting the ban,” Valliyate said.
‘Jallikattu is a cultural symbol’
Five-time World Chess Champion Vishwanathan Anand extended his support to holding the bull taming sport, saying it was a cultural symbol.
“#jallikattu is a cultural symbol. Respect it. Im all for animal rights but here that is not the point. tradition & livelihood are”, the chess legend wrote in his official micro-blogging site Twitter.
“my state rises again. In unison. In peace. Proud to be a #tamizhanda. Genext here are modern yet culturally rooted #JusticeforJallikattu”, Anand who hails from Chennai, said.
Spiritual writer and founder of Isha Foundation Jaggi Vasudev Sadhu too supported the sport, saying it has a traditional significance.
The yogi, who was attending the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival, argued that the centuries-old sport was conducted to honour animals, and not to carry out any cruelty against them.
“The bull is part of a farmer’s family as it lives with them. Jallikattu celebrates the farmers’ relationship with their livestock,” he told reporters.
The writer, who was at the festival to talk about his book ‘Inner engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy’, claimed animal rights activists presented the case in the court without understanding the significance of the festival and citing only a few “bad examples”.
“Jallikattu should be seen as a sport. If such festivals do not take place, the livestock will line up at slaughter houses,” he said.
Talking about the dangers associated with the sport he said, “Even playing cricket with a leather ball coming at a high speed is no less than a missile and too dangerous for the players.
“If the government wants to stop such festivals, they should open stadiums and grounds for people to play sports,” he said.
Jallikattu stir spreads to Sri Lanka, UK and Australia
Protests demanding lifting of the ban on Jallikattu have spread to beyond India with the Tamil diaspora in Sri Lanka, Britain and Australia holding demonstrations.
Hundreds of UK-based Indian Tamils have come together to organise a series of protests in favour of Jallikattu this week in London and across the UK. The protest group includes London Tamil Sangam, World Tamil Organisation and British South Indians. They held protests outside the Indian High Commission in London on Tuesday and yesterday. Protests are also planned in the city of Leeds in England and Dublin in Ireland.
Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, protest was held in the Tamil minority dominated northern capital of Jaffna, on Wednesday. Hundreds of people held placards saying ‘Why ban it when it is our culture’ and ‘This is a valued tradition lets permit it’.
Australian Tamil community has also joined the ongoing protest against the ban on Jallikattu by holding peaceful demonstrations in Melbourne and Sydney. A demonstration is set to take place on Friday in Sydney in a bid to support the traditional sport while another peaceful demonstration was held in Melbourne Thursday.
“Jallikattu is an ancient and traditional Tamil sport. The (ancient) seals of the Indus Valley civilisation depict it, which is proof that this sport was in vogue more than five, six thousand years ago — why ban it now? It is like taking away a part of our lifestyle,” a protester Thiru Arumugam was quoted as saying by media reports in Sydney.
Photographs: PTI Photo