Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday told Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam that the Centre could take no action on the Supreme Court-imposed ban on jallikattu as the matter was sub-judice. Modi added that a central team would be deputed to the state soon to tackle the ongoing protests demanding that the bull-taming sport be allowed.

“The Centre will be supportive of steps taken by the state government,” the Prime Minister’s Office said. The two leaders met in Delhi even as the agitation in Tamil Nadu picked up pace. Panneerselvam had urged protestors to call off their demonstration on Wednesday.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister told the media that he had urged the Centre to draft an ordinance on lifting the ban on jallikattu, adding that Modi had assured him of full support to the state. “PM Modi said he gives highest importance to the cultural values of the state,” Pannerselavm said.

Moreover, police on Thursday detained a jallikattu supporter who had been protesting outside the prime minister’s residence. Pattali Makkal Katchi leader Anbumani Ramadoss was taken into custory in Delhi. “The prime minister refuses to meet me. I don’t have any other way but to sit outside his house till he meets me,” he had told ANI.

The ruling All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party had decided to send a delegation of senior leaders to meet Modi. However, considering the statewide protests going on in Tamil Nadu since Tuesday, the chief minister stepped in for the meeting.

AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala on Wednesday vowed that the state government would move and adopt a resolution in the ensuing Assembly session to have the ban on jallikattu revoked. She had earlier urged the Centre to promulgate an ordinance allowing the sport. Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam announced a statewide railway block on Friday and also condemned the Centre for its inaction in the matter.

Protests were carried out across Tamil Nadu in support of the bull-taming sport that is traditionally organised as part of the harvest festival of Pongal, which started on January 14 this year. The police had to resort to baton charge outside Chennai’s Sathyabama University where students were agitating against the ban on the sport. Protestors have held that the sport is an integral part of Tamil culture and hence it should be allowed in the state. They have also sought a ban on NGO People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal, which had hailed the ban.

Thousands of protestors continued to camp on the city’s Marina beach on Thursday. The numbers swelled as more people joined the protests. The protestors had gathered at the beach on Tuesday demanding an ordinance to organise the sport. Jallikattu supporters have also created Facebook pages, such as “Jallikattu veeravilayattu”, to spread awareness about their cause.

The protestors have been supported by several celebrities such as Tamil actors Rajinikanth, Kamal Hassan and Vijay. Cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin has also supported the demand for jallikattu, reported NDTV.

“The law was not created to rob people of their tradition and rights but to protect it. Jallikattu is every Tamilian’s identity. Those who are protesting against the ban on Jallikattu are united by the feeling that they are Tamilians but not out of compulsion or political pressure. I bow down to each and everyone of them,” Ashwin said in a video message.

The Supreme Court has been hearing petitions on the sporting event since it was banned in 2014.