Bull-taming sport ban protests continue as Indian govt faces heat

Students shout 'save jallikattu, ban PETA' slogans at Marina Beach in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Photograph:( AFP )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 19, 2017, 04.56 AM (IST)

Head of India's southern state of Tamil Nadu met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence in Delhi today to press for an ordinance on Jallikattu. The chief minister while briefing reporters said the Prime Minister respects the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu.

"I have asked the Prime Minister for an ordinance to be passed on Jallikattu," he said, adding the central government has assured support to the Tamil Nadu government. The chief minister also said AIADMK leader Sasikala has also written to Prime Minister Modi on the matter.

The Prime Minister's Office in a statement said while appreciating the cultural significance of Jallikattu, Prime Minister Modi observed that the matter is presently sub-judice in court. Meanwhile, protesters have blocked highways in Chennai, according to media reports.

Jallikattu is a centuries-old sport that is played across Tamil Nadu, but was banned by India's highest court last year after animal advocacy group PETA said the sport of bull-taming is cruel as the animals are drugged and are then subdued by young men with their bare hands.

The restriction on playing Jallikattu, which is considered to be an intrinsic part of the region's cultural identity, sparked statewide demonstrations in the run-up to Pongal (January 14), a harvest festival during which the sport is played.

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The Supreme Court has refused to hear a plea which sought that India's highest court should hear the matter on the Jalikattu row pertaining to public protest at Marina beach. The Supreme Court asked the petitioner to approach the Madras High Court, India's news agency ANI reported, even as Tamil Nadu chief minister Panneerselvam met PM Modi in Delhi today to push for an ordinance on the bull-taming sport.

Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam arrives in PM Modi's residence at 7, Race Course Road to apprise the Indian prime minister of the "sentiments and aspirations" of the people and push for an ordinance on the bull-taming sport . 

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WION Exclusive: "Jallikatu bigger than Holi or Diwali in Tamil Nadu," Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder Art of Living.

Jallikatu not a progressive law: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

In an exclusive discussion with WION's Kartikeya Sharma, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar talks about the demonstration at Chennai's Marina Beach in support of Jallikattu and much more. (WION)

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Police beat protesters in Alanganallur in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu.

People throng Chennai's Marina beach in support of Jalikattu. (Source: ANI)

 
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Tamils protest outside Jantar Mantar in Delhi.

Pro-Jallikattu student protests continue overnight in Marina beach, Chennai.

Schools and colleges in Tamil Nadu to remain shut, according to local media reports. 

The statewide protests against the Jallikattu ban have received support from several quarters, including the country's de facto leading opposition party.

Support pours in from all quarters

Congress leader RS Surjewala said his party "respects" the culture and wants the government to "protect" the rich traditions of the sport.

Renowned musician AR Rahman also backed the protests, tweeting: "I'm fasting tomorrow to support the spirit of Tamilnadu (sic)."

Five-time World Chess Champion Vishwanathan Anand extended his support to holding the bull taming sport, saying it was a cultural symbol.

"#jallikattu is a cultural symbol. Respect it. Im all for animal rights but here that is not the point. tradition & livelihood are (sic)," the chess legend wrote in his official micro-blogging site Twitter.

Movie stars had voiced their support with the agitators on Thursday (January 18).

Popular movie star Vijay sent a video message, condemning the arrests of those detained on Monday night and "bowing down (in respect) to each and every one of them (agitators)" for trying to "protect" Jallikattu, which is "every Tamilian's identity". Tamil actor Vishal wrote to PM Narendra Modi, seeking an ordinance facilitating the conduct of jallikattu.

Suriya, another popular cinestar in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu -- where the protest is being staged, excoriated PETA for its protracted campaign against Jallikattu.

The actors' body, the South Indian Artistes' Association, has announced a hunger strike on January 20.

(WION with inputs from agencies)