All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam General Secretary Sasikala Natarajan on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pass an ordinance to allow the bull-taming sport of jallikattu during the Pongal festival this year. “This sporting event is inextricably linked to the rural, agrarian customs, practices and psyche of the Tamils and also helps in the conservation of native germplasm, since bulls with excellent physical attributes alone are reared for this sport,” said Sasikala in a letter addressed to the prime minister.
A delegation of AIADMK legislators will meet Modi later in the day to seek permission for jallikattu.
On Monday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had made a similar request. “Given the urgency of the issue, the government of India should consider promulgating an ordinance to remove the legal impediments and enable the conduct of jallikattu during Pongal, 2017,” read his letter.
Jallikattu is traditionally organised as part of the five-day Pongal celebrations, which begins on January 14 this year. Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave on Tuesday had said that the Centre would take a stand on the controversy surrounding the sport after the Supreme Court pronounces its final verdict. He added that he hoped the apex court would “take care” of the sentiments behind jallikattu and perceive the practice as a societal tradition that does not involve any violence.
The Supreme Court has been hearing petitions on the practice since it was banned in 2014. On July 26, 2016, the Supreme Court had said jallikattu may be 5,000 years old, but it was for the judiciary to decide whether the practice could continue. “We have to show compassion to the animals. It is our constitutional obligation,” the bench had said.
The state, however, had argued for the sport to be allowed because it was a centuries-old tradition in the region. The Law and Justice Ministry had given its approval to a draft amendment of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which would allow the use of animals in traditional cultural practices.