The Karnataka government on Friday tabled a Bill to legalise the buffalo-racing sport of Kambala, reported Hindustan Times. The government has proposed to keep the sport out of the purview of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, so that it can be conducted in the state.

“Kambala, conducted to follow and promote tradition and culture, shall not be an offence under this Act,” says the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2017. However, it states that the sport can be conducted only after ensuring that no unnecessary pain or suffering was caused to the animals. The government said the sport would ensure the survival and continuance of native breed of buffaloes.

This comes only weeks after the Tamil Nadu government legalised jallikattu bypassing a Supreme Court ban on the bull-taming sport. “After the Tamil Nadu government succeeded in circumventing the court order on Jallikattu by getting an ordinance passed, pressure started mounting on the Karnataka government to initiate similar action with regard to Kambala,” a animal Husbandry department official told The Times of India.

Buoyed by the pro-jallikattu protests in Tamil Nadu, scores of people across Karnataka launched agitations against the ban on kambala. The buffalo-racing sport is held in the state’s coastal regions and has great popularity in Dakshina Kannada. Apart from demanding the reinstitution of the sport, protestors have also demanded a ban on animal rights group People for the Ethical Treat of Animals.

“They [PETA] should know that there is no cruel treatment meted out to bovines during the sport,” Dakshina Kannada MP NK Kateel had said. “We should all join hands and intensify our protest until the ban on kambala is lifted.”

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had expressed his support to bring back kambala a number of times. He had said his Congress government would bring in a new legislation to legalise the sport, if required.

Buffalo racing was barred in Karnataka after PETA filed a petition against the practice. In its verdict, the Karnataka High Court had observed: “All animals are not anatomically designed to be performing animals...Unavoidable activities causing pain and suffering to animals must be avoided.” On January 30, the high court had said it would look into a petition challenging the ban on kambala only after the Supreme Court pronounces its verdict on jallikattu.