The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam held protests across Tamil Nadu on Friday seeking an ordinance by the Centre to allow the banned bull-taming sport of jallikattu this Pongal. DMK leaders MK Stalin and M Kanimozhi led protests outside the collector’s office in Chennai and criticised the state’s All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam administration and the Centre for failing to have the ban revoked.
Groups across the state also held or attempted to organise jallikattu in various places, including Madurai, risking police action.
Many organisers have said they will organise the sport as part of their Pongal celebrations this year, defying the Supreme Court ban. “If we are arrested, let it be us who suffer, but let our heritage and culture triumph,’’ Ilamathy, a Madurai college student, told The Times of India.
On Thursday, the apex court had rejected a plea seeking an early verdict in the case, triggering protests across Tamil Nadu. Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Subramanian Swamy said a government ordinance at this point would amount to contempt of the Supreme Court , “You cannot expect the government to pass an ordinance now. Jallikattu should be held but legally,” he told News18.
People for Ethical Treatment of Animals said that the festival was celebrated to thank nature, which could not be done by torturing or injuring bulls, PTI reported. The animal rights group said in a statement that many bulls and people had died and sustained injuries during the sport in the past.
Jallikattu is traditionally organised as part of the five-day harvest festival, which will begin on Saturday, January 14, this year. The apex court had said the draft of the judgment was ready but could not be delivered before Saturday.
On Thursday, police had baton-charged a group of protesting students who were reportedly going to the collector’s office to submit a plea in favour of the sport. On Wednesday, AIADMK chief Sasikala Natarajan and state Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pass an ordinance to allow the sport this year.
The Supreme Court has been hearing petitions on the sporting event 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.