Jallikattu: Rights activists raise red flag after 7 die in Tamil Nadu

Chennai: Animal rights activists and Human rights activists have raised the red flag over the continuance of the violent, bloody sport of ‘Jallikattu’ in Tamil Nadu connected with the harvest festival of Pongal. The festival which is considered a valour sport is to tame bulls that are released from cages.

Sometimes the bull gores the tamers, in certain days the bull tramples and kills the owners and at many times it kills the spectators by running into them at the finishing point. Whatever it is, the tough sport has drawn bouquets and brickbats with the young generation of Tamil Nadu raising their thumbs for the continuance of the festival while animal rights activists and human rights activists are calling upon the state government to put a ban on the sport.

The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) has already opposed the cruelty meted out to bulls during the Jallikattu festival including hurting the animal with knives, biting its tail, and even rubbing red chilly powder in its eyes to make the animal more valiant.

Sudhir Raghuram of FIAPO while speaking to IANS said, “Jallikattu was banned by the Supreme Court in 2014 and Tamil Nadu government after public protests brought an ordinance in 2017 and made it happen again. However even now, the cruelty against the bull is unfathomable and this is not valour and it’s sheer cruelty and arrogance. Seven people have already lost their lives in this mad sport and several hundred are injured. We don’t know the exact number of bulls that have been inflicted injuries.”

However, in Tamil Nadu on the Mattu Pongal day in several parts of the state including Madurai, Pudukottai, Nagapattinam, Sivaganga, Tirunelveli, the Jallikattu is conducted with even the Chief Minister of the state sponsoring the winner’s trophy. In this year’s Jallikattu, Chief Minister, M.K. Stalin sponsored a car for the best bull tamer, and his son and DMK youth wing leader and MLA, Udayanidhi Stalin sponsored a two-wheeler to the winner.

The PETA has also raised the red flag against the cruelty being inflicted on the bulls during the Jallikattu festival and the extreme mental tension the animal would be facing during the few minutes of the festival.

Krishnaveni H. of Madurai who is an activist of the PETA while speaking to IANS said, “The ordinance of the Tamil Nadu government is still the license for conduct of Jallikattu in the state and there should be an end to this sport if one may call it a sport. There needs to be strict monitoring against the practices of hurting the animal including biting its tail, rubbing its eyes with red chilli powder, and also hitting its vertebra and sides with sharpened knives and iron rods to make the animal more valorous. In fact, the poor animal is running for its life and people are making it out as if they are gaining something out of it. Anyway, with the Jallikattu on, the government and the Animal welfare board must take measures to prevent cruelty to the animal and stringent monitoring is necessary for that.”

While there are many objections being raised against Jallikattu, the Tamil people consider this as their pride and also to find good bulls for insemination purposes. The bulls that win the race and that cannot be tamed are considered powerful bulls and are used to inseminate cows.

M. Manikantan, a bull owner in Madurai told IANS, “Jallikattu is part and parcel of the life of a Tamilian and we will not allow it to be stopped or banned. This has been in our blood for ages and we will continue with this. The animals are given royal treatment and it’s absurd to say that the bulls are being hurt. How can one hurt a costly bull which has been trained and reared purposefully for this festival? It’s a royal sport and not for the weak-hearted. Those who are against Jallikattu are against Tamil pride and we will continue with this manly sport.”

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