Indian ordinance soon to allow ancient sport Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu

Jan 21, 2017
Massive protest against Jallikattu ban in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Massive protest against Jallikattu ban in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

The decks are now clear for Tamil Nadu to promulgate an ordinance allowing Jallikattu in the state after India federal government moved speedily to clear the proposal late on Friday.

The development raises hopes that massive public protests in Tamil Nadu could soon end peacefully.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that all efforts were being made to fulfil the cultural aspirations of Tamil people, a day after an executive order or ordinance by the state, which allowed the bull-taming sport of Jallikattu, was cleared by the centre.

It has been sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for his assent.

Thousands of protestors gathered at Chennai’s Marina Beach since Tuesday say they would not disperse till the ban was officially lifted.

The Law Ministry gave its nod for promulgation of the ordinance.

The Home Ministry then conveyed the centre’s approval to the state government, paving the way for promulgation of the ordinance by Tamil Nadu Governor Vidyasagar Rao.

Sources said the PMO ensured the ordinance was cleared expeditiously.

“We acted in keeping with the promise of constructive and cooperative response PM Modi promised to Tamil Nadu CM O. Panneerselvam .

Our objective was to ensure that there was peace in Tamil Nadu and people there felt reassured about the protection of their tradition and culture,” a senior government source said.

The ordinance is expected to contain provisions prohibiting cruelty to animals and measures to ensure safety of spectators.

It has been screened by the environment ministry too so that it can stand scrutiny in the courts, since a legal challenge is almost certain.

A legal challenge is almost certain as activists have opposed any dilution of the ban on Jallikattu.

The sport, which goes back to the Tamil classical period, was banned following a Supreme Court order in May 2014, but spontaneous protests in Chennai have thrust the issue into limelight and sent Tamil Nadu CM O. Pannerselvam rushing to Delhi to seek an ordinance to overturn the ban.

The centre and Tamil Nadu government seem to have worked in close coordination with the attorney general successfully pleading in the Supreme Court that the final order on petitions regarding the ban be held back.

Jallikattu (taming or hugging or embracing the bull) is an ancient Tamil sports.
Jallikattu (taming or hugging or embracing the bull) is an ancient Tamil sports.

The move to bring an ordinance, the centre and the AIADMK governments hope, will help contain a popular protest against the ban.

A resolution will help the AIADMK, just finding its feet after the demise of its leader Jayalalithaa, to protect its flanks against political rivals like DMK that have come out strongly in favour of the pro-Jallikattu movement.

The state ordinance may carry strict conditions and penalties to deal with abuse of bulls during Jallikattu so that it meets certain provisions and safeguards in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Some of the safeguards are keeping the bull within a radial distance of 15 meters, testing by authorities to ensure that animals are in good physical condition and are not administered any drugs or alcohol.

The law may also have provisions for prior approval of the district authorities and penalty for inflicting pain on the bull.

The central clearance came within hours of a delegation of Tamil Nadu MPs meeting Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave.