Centre okays Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu ahead of Pongal

RSTV Bureau

File photo by PTI

The Centre has given its nod to the Jallikattu, the controversial bull taming sport which is massively popular in Tamil Nadu. Centre’s notification to allow the sport came after extensive demands were made by political parties in the state to restore the sport ahead of Pongal.

Tamil Nadu celebrated Centre’s move by bursting crackers and distributing sweets. Jallikattu also known Eruthazhuvuthal takes place in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day.

“Due to the notification, there is no ban on conducting Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and people can celebrate Pongal with joy,” announced Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

On December 23, last month the Tamil Nadu government had urged the Centre to introduce a bill to amend laws to bring back the sport which was banned by the Supreme Court.

CM Jayalalithaa had urged PM Modi to immediately direct the Ministry of Environment, to introduce and pass a bill so that the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 can be comprehensively amended to enable Jallikattu.

Centre’s nod to Jallikattu comes depite an advisory from the Animal Welfare Board of India (ABWI) to the Environment Ministry asking them not to overturn the Supreme Court’s judgement which had banned Jallikattu in the state.

“…The Central Government, hereby specifies that following animals shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animal, with effect from the date of publication of this notification, namely bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, lions and bulls…Provided that bulls may be continue to be exhibited or trained as a performing animal, at events such as Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat in the manner by customs of any community or practiced traditionally,” the notification said.

However, the Centre has also laid down several conditions that organisers will have to follow to conduct the sport. The Centre has said that the bullock cart race needs to be organised on a proper track not more than 2 kms long. It also says that the bull needs to be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metres after it leaves its enclosure. Proper testing of bulls by the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department has been made mandatory. Centre’s notification also bans the use of performance enhancement drugs on bulls.

Not just that, Jallikattu or bullock cart races shall have to be held with prior approval of district authorities and should be duly monitored by District Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and State Animal Welfare Board to ensure that the animals don’t suffer any pain during the course of the event.

“What we have allowed is with propor safeguaurds and ensuring that there is no cruelty to animals. The cultural and historial practces of the communities are being allowed with many restrictions,” said Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.

Animal rights activists, especially People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have slammed Centre’s decision.

“This U-turn is being seen by many of the BJP’s own supporters as reckless, heartless, and weak. We vow to take our fight to protect bulls from cruelty back to the Supreme Court,” said Poorva Joshipura, PETA India CEO.

(With inputs from PTI)