Jallikattu begins in Madurai
The sport of Jallikattu began in Madurai amid large scale celebrations in the state. 910 bulls were registered for the event along with 750 bull wranglers in the presence of Tamil Nadu State Revenue Minister R. B. Udhayakumar. 500 policemen have also been deployed to maintain law and order in the region. Eight ambulances have also been pressed into service at the spot.
Jallikattu is a popular bull taming sport, part of Tamil Nadu's Pongal celebrations, where young men try to cling on to a charging bull. A native species of bull, 'Jellicut', is reared for the sport. Originally an ancient agrarian custom, where local youth would chase and outrun bulls, zamindars moved the sport to the cities and turned it into a display of power.
The Supreme Court banned Jallikattu in 2008 after a petition by a victim's father. After the Tamil Nadu Government's appeal against the ban, the Supreme Court permitted Jallikattu but with certain guidelines. A year later, Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Regulation Act was passed that called for registration of bulls, certification by vets and other provisions. The Animal Welfare Board appealed against the Madras Government's decision.
Jallikattu supporters argue that preserving the ancient tradition of bull-fighting helps in the conservation of the native species of bulls and helps maintain healthy breeds. Families that own the bulls feel that the sport is a way to settle scores between neighbours.
In 2014, the Supreme Court resolved the lawsuit filed by Animal Welfare Board and PETA and banned Jallikattu along with horse and bull races. The court said even bulls have rights against torture. The court observed that the conditions the bulls were subject to in bull sports were 'cruel' and 'unnecessary' and were a violation of animal rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Thousands of members of the Jallikattu union protested the ban, with the support of various political parties. The DMK declared a fast to show solidarity with the protesters. Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa wrote to the PM to rescind the ban on Jallikattu and convene a special parliamentary session for the same so that the traditional sport could be a part of January's Pongal celebrations.
The Centre will soon allow Tamil Nadu's popular bull taming sport, Jallikattu and other bullock races, that were banned by the Supreme Court a year ago. The Centre would need to amend the Protection of Animals Act, 1960, to revoke SC's judgement favouring the protection of fundamental rights of animals. The announcement comes on the back of mounting pressure from politicians and Jallikattu organizers.
The SC suspended the Centre's notification which lifted the Jallikattu ban. The court, in its interim injunction, suspended the Centre's January 7th notification by issuing it a notice. The states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu were also given similar notices. This order might pose a problem to BJP which wants to woo the Tamil Nadu voter bank that wants the ban to be lifted.
On 26th July, 2016, in an affidavit filed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, Climate and Change, Jallikattu was justified as a centuries-old custom. Justice Dipak Misra, part of the two-member bench asked, "There were 8,000-odd child marriages in 1899. Should we continue with it?" The bench stated that sides having stakes in the matter would be allowed to place their views in August.
The Supreme Court lambasted the Centre for allowing Jallikattu - bull fighting and bullock cart races to continue; the court said it is the constitutional obligation of the government to protect animals. The government argued that it had framed guidelines to ensure that animal cruelty is minimized. The court cited Article 48 and 51A of the Constitution, demanding an explanation for the Centre's decision.
The AIADMK has asked the Centre to pass an ordinance allowing smooth conduct of Jallikattu this year; they seek to remove bulls from the list of animals that are banned from being exhibited. A 27-member delegation submitted a memorandum to the PMO in this regard. Lok Sabha deputy speaker, AIADMK's M Thambidurai said "the powers of altering the list rests with Modi-led Central government."
28 people were arrested for conducting Jallikattu near the Tiruvanthipuram Devanathaswamy Temple premises at Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu. Meanwhile, students also joined protests across TN; DMK Working President and Leader of Opposition MK Stalin said "students' agitations will protect Jallikattu, the cultural symbol of the Tamil people." Students took out rallies raising slogans seeking permission for Jallikattu in Coimbatore and Madurai.