Jallikattu: Protesters refuse to leave before event is held (Roundup)

Chennai, Jan 20 (IANS) The swarming mass of youth in Chennai’s Marina Beach and in Madurai were in no mood to call off their protests for Jallikattu on Friday, and declared they would end their spontaneous demonstration only after the bull taming event takes place.

The youth protest in support of Jallikattu – a hugely popular ancient bull taming sport — was continuing despite assurances given by Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam that legal steps were being taken to enable holding of the sport and that it would be held in a couple of days.

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, Panneerselvam on Friday said the state government would promulgate an ordinance to conduct Jallikattu.

He said he had detailed discussions with constitutional experts on the matter.

The Chief Minister said the state government has drafted an amendment to some provisions in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and has sent it to the central government on Friday morning.

He said the amendment will be promulgated as an ordinance after getting the assent of President Pranab Mukherjee and state Governor C.H. Vidyasagar Rao.

Once the Governor approves it, the ordinance would be promulgated following which Jallikattu can be held in the state, he said.

The Chief Minister urged the demonstrators to withdraw their protests.

However, the protesting students at Chennai’s Marina Beach and also at Madurai categorically declared that they would call off their protest only after it takes place.

“We will call off the protest only after Jallikattu is held in Tamil Nadu. The measure announced by the Chief Minister seems to be a stop-gap arrangement. The permanent solution is that the central government by a notification remove bull from the list of performing animals in The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,” said a protester.

Even several hours after Panneerselvam’s announcement the number of protesters at Marina beach continued to swell.

In several localities groups of youth carrying placards assembled playing drums.

Many young people, including married couples with children in tow, gathered at Marina.

“Jallikattu is Tamil Nadu’s identity and pride. We want Jallikattu,” Venkatesh employed in a private company told IANS while going to Marina with his family.

His daughter and son were carrying a “We want Jallikattu” placard.

“The student protest is the culmination of the stand taken by the central government on various issues concerning Tamil Nadu, like the Cauvery river water sharing, attacks on Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, Jallikattu,” R. Arul, secretary, Pasumai Thayagam, a non-government organisation (NGO), told IANS.

“Perhaps the centre’s stand vis-a-vis Tamil Nadu on several issues was the tipping point for former World Chess Champion V. Anand to extend his support to Jallikattu and claim “Tamizhanda” (I am a Tamilian),” Arul said.

“Normally people like Anand and others would always claim that they are Indians first,” Arul added.

He said the central government – whether it is headed by Bharatiya Janata Party or the Congress – should accept the diversity of culture and civilisation that prevails in the country.

Arul also said there are no chances of the protest turning into a Tamil nationalist movement as those days are over.

“People are not supportive of such movements in Tamil Nadu,” he added.

Meanwhile, the DMK held protests on rail tracks in Tamil Nadu and its Working President M.K. Stalin was detained by police for some time.

In some districts schools were also closed while shops downed their shutters across the state in support of Jallikattu.

The Supreme Court in May 2014 banned Jallikattu, saying that bulls cannot be used as performing animals including bullock-cart races.

Since then, people have been urging the central government to take steps to allow the sport.

The common complaint among the protest leaders was that the Supreme Court had insulted Tamil culture by disallowing the traditional sport observed during the harvest festival of Pongal.

In Tamil Nadu, the protests began on Tuesday morning following the arrest of protesters in Madurai district’s Alanganallur town, well known for conducting the sport.

In Jallikattu, a bull vaulter is expected to hang on to the animal’s hump for a stipulated distance or for a minimum of three jumps by the bull.

In Madurai large number of youth are continuing their protest in support of the state’s ancient sport.

–IANS

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