The Tamil Nadu government has issued a government order to conduct bull taming sport jallikattu in three places in Madurai in January.
“Under Section 2 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, the Tamil Nadu governor hereby notifies that jallikattu may be conducted on selected days in the places specified,” the order dated December 24 read, according to The Times of India.
The government has permitted the sport in Avaniayapuram in South Madurai taluk on January 15, Palamedu in Vadipatti taluk on January 16 and Alanganallur, also in Vadipatti, on January 17.
The traditional sport involves a bull charging into an arena where participants attempt to encircle it and grab its hump. The participant who is able to cling on to the animal is declared the winner.
But for around a decade now, the sport has been embroiled in a legal tangle. After a campaign against jallikattu by animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Supreme Court banned the sport in 2014. In January 2016, though, yielding to popular pressure, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government published a notification allowing bulls to be used in the sport. Animal rights groups challenged this, prompting the Supreme Court to quash the notification a few days later.
One year on, in January 2017, lakhs of Tamil Nadu residents poured onto Chennai’s Marina beach, protesting the ban on jallikattu. Several students, members of the youth wings of political parties and IT employees participated. Holding placards and demanding that the ban should be lifted, these protestors claimed that the jallikattu was necessary both to preserve a cultural tradition and because the bouts helped identify the most robust bulls necessary for breeding native species of cattle.
After more than a week of protests, the Tamil Nadu government passed an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, a central law. The amendment was approved by the President of India and jallikattu events were permitted again.
But the legal challenge to jallikattu has not been put to rest entirely. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals challenged the amendment, and the Supreme Court has said a constitutional bench will examine whether jallikattu is a cultural right.