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6 TN dists defy Jallikattu ban as people bristle with rage

Saturday, 14 January 2017 | Kumar Chellappan | Chennai/Madurai

In a gesture of defiance of the Supreme Court’s order banning Jallikattu, the popular bull taming sport was organised in six districts in Tamil Nadu on Friday as protests continued for the fourth day in the State.

A day after the SC said it could not give its verdict on Jallikattu before Pongal, DMK working president MK Stalin led a protest in Chennai and sought promulgation of an Ordinance to allow holding the sport.

Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Stalin, the Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly, wondered why he cannot give time to AIADMK MPs to discuss an important heritage issue of Tamilians when he could meet actors.

Elsewhere in the State, protests were held by students and other pro-Jallikattu groups, demanding that the sport be allowed and PETA be “banned” for, according to them, acting against the interests of TN. In Chennai, a human chain was formed by students seeking a nod for holding the sport.

A group of students tried to stage a ‘rail roko’ at Salem Railway Station but were removed by police.

In Erode, hundreds of young men participated in a two-wheeler rally demanding permission to hold Jallikattu.  In Dindigul and Arani near Tiruvannamalai, youth sported black shirts as a mark of protest and took out decorated bulls on main roads. They held placards, which said, “Jallikattu our cultural sport, our right.”

Rallies were also taken out in Vellore, Madurai, Sivaganga, and Rameswaram demanding that Jallikattu be allowed.

The SC had declared Jallikattu illegal and banned it in May 2014, but that did not deter enthusiasts of the sport from staging it in many places in southern TN.

“We held Jallikattu in at least six districts in southern Tamil Nadu where organisers defied the court order and held the event. It was impossible for the police to monitor all the places in these areas with their limited manpower,” said RV Giri, president, Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations.

Karisalkulam and Avaniyapuram villages in Madurai district, popular for Jallikattu, staged bull taming events on Friday morning. By the time the police reached the venue, the organisers had wound up and left the place with their specially-bred bulls.

Residents of Karisalkulam Village blamed both the State Government and the SC for not allowing the sport to take place. “There was no need for any court permission to follow one’s culture,” Muthupandi, one of the organisers said. Police were seen pleading with organisers at many places not to go ahead with the event.

“Ban or no ban, we will hold the event here. The authorities are free to take action against us,” said one of the bull tamers who had a field day on Friday.

In Coimbatore district, a group of 150 villagers conducted Rekla race in Ettimadi Village protesting the Jallikattu ban. No arrests were made, police said.

However, Giri, a vocal supporter of Jallikattu expressed his sadness after seeing Friday’s event on TV channels. “I saw the tamers hurting the bulls which should not have happened. The Jallikattu events held in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 were regulated, streamlined and held under the watchful eyes of Government officials who ensured that the events were held smoothly without any cruelty to the animals. But this time, with no officials around the tamers had a free run. They were seen tormenting the animals,” said Giri.

On Friday Tamil actress Trisha earned the wrath of Jallikattu lovers for her association with PETA, a NGO campaigning against the sport as a group of Jallikattu supporters picketed the locale of the shooting of her film “Garjanai.” However, Trisha, a known animal lover and who has featured in PETA’s advertisement for adopting homeless dogs, was not present when the activists of Naam Tamizhar Katchi and some fringe outfits came to the site in Nemathanpatti near Karaikudi, police said.

The protesters raised slogans and picketed the area for some time before dispersing, police said.

Animal rights groups PETA, which has been rallying against Jallikattu on grounds of cruelty to bulls, petitioned President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi arguing against any promulgation of an Ordinance to permit the sport, saying it could be considered unconstitutional.

Meanwhile Cuddalore district witnessed Jallikattu for the last two days. Naam Tamizhar, a Tamil separatist group which enjoys good camaraderie with Kashmiri separatist groups, held many rounds of Jallikattu on Thursday. As many as 28 functionaries of Naam Tamizhar were arrested for conducting Jallikattu in the coastal town on Thursday, police said. 

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