Two people were killed in Sivaganga district and one in Tiruchirappalli district of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday while watching the annual bull-taming festival jallikattu, IANS reported. Several participants sustained minor to grievous injuries. The deaths comes a day after the sport claimed a teenager’s life in Madurai’s Palamedu town.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam on Tuesday morning flagged off Jallikattu event in Alanganallur town in Madurai. The ministers offered new cars as gifts to the best bull-tamer and the owner of the most outstanding bull, NDTV reported.

The cars had stickers of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and the symbol of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam pasted on them. “It was our chief minister’s efforts last year [2017] that made it possible to host jallikattu, and they are honouring our leader Jayalalithaa,” NDTV quoted Revenue Minister RB Udhayakumar as saying.

Nearly 1,000 bulls and more than 1,200 bull tamers participated in the event on Tuesday in Alanganallur. Besides cars, the winners of the event were also got gifts like two-wheelers, television sets, gold coins, consumer durable and refrigerators, among other things. “It is an honour to give gifts for this symbol of Tamil pride,” Udhayakumar said.

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam at the jallikattu event in Alanganallur town. (Image credit: O Panneerselvam/Twitter)
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam flag off the sport in Alanganallur town. (Image credit: O Panneerselvam/Twitter)

The ban and challenge

The Supreme Court banned the sport in 2014, saying there was a constitutional obligation to show compassion to animals. It upheld this ban in 2016. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government published a notification that allowed bulls to be used in the sport. Animal rights groups challenged this, and the Supreme Court quashed the notification a few days later.

A year later, lakhs of youth from Tamil Nadu gathered at Chennai’s Marina beach to protest the ban on the sport. After more than a week of protests, the Tamil Nadu government amended the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The president approved the amendment and jallikattu events were allowed again.

Currently, this amendment has been challenged by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The Supreme Court has proposed that a constitutional bench be formed to examine if jallikattu is a cultural right.