Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Centre on Friday gave its nod for controversial bull-taming sport jallikattu in the state. PTI reported that the environment ministry had issued a notice allowing the sport, altering an older notice from 2011. Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan tweeted the announcement on Friday morning. Radhakrishnan said Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had told him that arrangements to organise jallikattu had been made in Tamil Nadu. Radhakrishnan also thanked Modi for facilitating the move.
The move comes a week before the festival of Pongal on January 15. Jallikattu is a traditional part of pongal celebrations. There has been a furore over the practice, with proponents arguing that it is part of the state’s cultural heritage, while activists and members of the Animal Welfare Board have claimed the sport amounts to animal abuse.
An hour after the notice was announced, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said they would move the Supreme Court against the government's action. "It is an unfortunate decision. It is unconstitutional and against the supreme court's judgment," said Dr. Chaitanya Koduri, a policy adviser for the animal rights group.
In May 2014, the Supreme upheld a central government notification from 2011 that included bulls in a list of creatures that cannot be used as performing animals. The decision meant that bulls could not be used in traditional sports like Tamil Nadu’s jallikattu and Maharshtra’s bullock-cart racing.
Facing pressure from Tamil Nadu leaders, who have argued that jallikattu is an integral part of their traditional Pongal celebrations, the Centre had said in June last year that they would consider steps to allow the sport. At the time, Javadekar had said the government if need be would amend laws to bring the sport back before the next Pongal.
Last week, the Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi had advised the government against lifting the ban, saying it would go against the Supreme Court order. The government was also under pressure to allow the practice ahead of the 2016 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.
Radhakrishnan holds up the government's notice: