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Jayalalitha requests center to bring ordinance to allow Jallikattu, after SC orders Stay

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The participant is seen holding onto the hump of the Bull. Photo: www.in.com
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Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Tuesday urged the central government to immediately issue an ordinance to permit Jallikattu, hours after the Supreme Court stayed the bull taming sport citing cruelty to the animal.

As news of the ruling stunned Tamil Nadu where the event is held during Pongal celebrations starting on January 14, Jayalalithaa said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “I strongly reiterate my earlier request to promulgate an ordinance forthwith to enable the conduct of Jallikattu.”

Jallikattu, reputedly one of the oldest living sports, was part of the traditional festivities ingrained in the cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu, the chief minister said.

“It is very important that the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu, who have a deep attachment to the conduct of the traditional event of Jallikattu, are respected,” she added. “On behalf of the people of Tamil Nadu, I urge you to take immediate action in this regard.”

Jayalalithaa’s communication followed a Supreme Court stay on the operation of a central government notification issued on Friday that gave the green signal to Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu.

Observing that Jallikattu amounted to heaping cruelty to animals, an apex court bench headed by Justice Dipak Mishra said the sport cannot be permitted in the 21st century.

The Supreme Court had in May 2014 banned the sport. On Friday, the central government issued a notification, in response to appeals from the Tamil Nadu government, effectively reversing the 2014 ban.

Petitioner Gauri Maulekhi said they had wanted the central government notification quashed. “The court has stayed it.” The apex court issued notices to New Delhi and other respondents.

Bulls are specifically bred for Jallikattu, which involves young men trying to tame the powerful animals. Many youths get killed or are injured in the process, but the event’s popularity has only grown.

Animal rights activists, who welcomed the Supreme Court order, say there can be no justification for anything where animals are treated harshly.

“I am delighted,” S. Chinny Krishna, vice chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), said in Chennai.

“This is a huge victory for animals. We hope the government of Tamil Nadu will follow this order and not allow Jallikattu to take place,” added N.G. Jayasimha of AWBI.

But T. Velmurugan, founder of Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi and a former legislator, said: “As per the law of the land, the Supreme Court has decided. The fault (is with) the central government. It could have amended the law properly by deleting bull from the banned list.”

According to him, the Tamil Nadu government can allow Jallikattu as a sport since sports fall under the concurrent list of the constitution.

PMK founder S Ramadoss said the central and the Tamil Nadu governments were both to blame for the bar on Jallikattu.

In a related development, an expert on cattle warned that a blanket ban on Jallikattu would greatly harm Indian breeds of bulls in the long run and lead to the import of foreign animals.

“The banning of Jallikattu and the demand for ban on other rural sports will ultimately result in the vanishing of native species,” K. Sivasenapathy of the Senaapathy Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation stated in Tamil Nadu.

He said there was no chance of cruelty to the Jallikattu bulls as they were checked by doctors before and after the event.

The bull runs for a short distance in an open ground, during which time youths have to hold on to its hump for a minimum period of time, he said.

“The government should jail the owners if their bull is found to be tortured. Punish the guilty and not the sport,” Sivasenapathy said. (IANS)(Photo: www.in.com)

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All You Need to Know About the Sport of Jallikattu

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sports, which poses a risk of life for the participants

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banned bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu
Jallikattu sport of Tamil Nadu. Wikimedia

By Ruchika Verma

  • Jallikattu is a traditional Tamil sport
  • The sport involves bulls and humans, the latter trying to control the former
  • The sport was banned in 2014, which created lots of controversies

Jallikattu or Sallikkattu, also known as ‘eru thazhuvuthal’ and ‘manju virattu’ traditionally, was in news last year, around this time due to the ban imposed on it by the Supreme Court. The ban was much hyped and gathered a plethora of media’s attention.

Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons
Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons

Jallikattu ban has also garnered lots of political attention due to the involvement of Tamil Nadu and Central governments. The issue is much hyped due to the political context involved in it too.

What exactly is Jallikattu? 

Jallikattu is a traditional sport and spectacle in which bulls of the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds are released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to control the bulls while they try to escape.

Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr
Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr

Jallikattu is practised in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations. The districts, Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem are the most famous for conducting Jallikattu. The game dates back to Tamil classical period, which went back to 400 BC. Ancient Tamil Sangam literature described the practice as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ which literally means “bull embracing.” With time the sport has become synonymous with valour and bravery.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu legalises Jallikattu with a New Law

What happens in Jallikattu and how?

The bulls participating in the game are all lined up behind a narrow gate and released one by one into the arena. The participants have to either control the bull by holding its hump or clutch away from a flag attached to the horns. Owners of the bulls often announce prizes for the man who gets the hold of their bull.

The objective of the game is not to kill or overpower the bull, but to hold onto their hump for a certain amount of time or distance.

The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com
The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com

There are three variants to the game. First, when the bulls are released from an enclosed area. Second, when the bull is directly released into the open ground. And third, when the bull is tied to a rope as the only restriction, and a team of 7-9 members has to untie the prize from the bull’s horns in 30 minutes of the time period.

The gate through which bulls enter the arena is called Vadi Vasai. The bulls charge at the men standing most near to the gate. One of the rules also says that a participant is only allowed to hold bull’s hump and no other body part. The other rules vary from region to region.

Also Read: Animal rights organisations challenge new law on Jallikattu

Jallikattu Ban and Controversy

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sport, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

In 2014, The Supreme Court banned the sport, endorsing the activists’ concerns according to which, Jallikattu is not only cruelty towards the animal, but also poses a threat to humans. According to the data provided, between 2010 and 2014, 17 people were killed and approximately 1000 were injured during Jallikatu.

The Jallikattu ban was protests by many Tamilians.
The Jallikattu ban was protested by many Tamilians.

However, the ban invited a lot of protests. Many Tamil communities called this ban a violation of their culture and tradition.

In 2017, many lawyers plead to remove the ban which was rejected by the court. After requests and arguments of Tamil communities, central government reversed the ban, however, after Supreme Court struck the order down, the ban was imposed again. However, the government of Tamil Nadu sanctioned the sport and brought it back into the practice.