Centre lifts ban on Jallikattu; celebrations erupt in Tamil Nadu

Friday, Jan 8, 2016,12:18 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi/Chennai | The four-year-old ban on holding of controversial bull taming sport Jallikattu was lifted today in poll-bound Tamil Nadu with certain restrictions, angering animal rights activists who said it is cruel and abusive and vowed to move the Supreme Court against it.
The decision to allow Jallikattu days before the traditional harvest festival begins, and also bullock cart races in other parts of the country came through a government notification despite strong objections by animal rights groups.
Crackers were burst and sweets distributed in southern districts of Tamil Nadu to celebrate the news as the decision comes just ahead of the Pongal festival. Jallikattu also known Eruthazhuvuthal is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day.
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 continued 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 put some conditions, saying bullock cart race shall be organised on a proper track, which shall not exceed two kilometres. In case of Jallikattu, the moment the bull leaves the enclosure, it shall be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metres and it should also be ensured that the bulls are put to proper testing by authorities of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department to ensure that they are in good physical condition to participate in the event.
Performance enhancement drugs are not to be administered to the bulls. An elated Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his ‘prompt response’ to her government’s appeal, seeking a nod for Jallikattu. I am very grateful to you for your prompt response in the matter, which has enabled the conduct of Jallikattu, she said in a letter to him.
She said the sport upholds traditional cultural values and traditions of Tamil Nadu and has great historical significance and also ensures the conservation of native germ plasm and continuance of traditional breeds of indigenous cattle. The use of bulls in performances was banned by the UPA government in 2011 on the ground that the sport ended in cruelty to the animals.
Slamming the Centre’s decision to allow Jallikattu and other bull races, PETA India said that lifting protection against cruelty is a black mark on the nation. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India said that even the BJP supporters are horrified that the same authorities who claimed to care about cattle are now allowing the cruelty on it even after it has been banned by the highest court of India.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar justified the decision, saying the cultural and historial practice of the communities has been allowed with many restrictions. 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, he said.
According to the notification, 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 or district authorities to ensure that no unnecessary pain or suffering is inflicted or caused during the course of such events.
The notification comes after The Animal Welfare Board of India (ABWI) recently advised the Environment Ministry not to overturn the Supreme Court’s judgement which presently bans Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu.  On December 23, 2015, Tamil Nadu government had urged the Centre to introduce a bill to amend laws for its conduct.
Jyalalithaa said, Due to the notification, there is no ban on conducting Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and people can celebrate Pongal with joy. She blamed the Congress-led UPA for its 2011 notification bringing bulls in the list that cannot be exhibited or treated as a performing animal. PETA said the use of bulls in performances was banned by the Environment Ministry itself in 2011.
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. PETA India has claimed that during Jallikattu, terrified bulls are often deliberately disoriented through substances like alcohol, have their tails twisted and bitten, stabbed and jabbed by sickles, spears, knives or sticks and also punched, jumped on and dragged to the ground.
And as calculated from various media reports, from 2010 to 2014, there were approximately 1,100 human injuries and 17 deaths as a result of Jallikattu-type events including that of a child, the animal rights body said.