Over 3,000 people, mostly students and techies, are protesting at Chennai’s Marina beach since last night demanding permission to host the banned bull-taming festival Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and a ban on animal rights organisation People for Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA.
As protests continued, two ministers Jayakumar and Ma Foi Pandiarajan met representatives of protesters and assured them that they will approach the centre to issue an executive order (on Jallikattu). “We would echo the public sentiment in Tamil Nadu to the central government,” Mr Pandiarajan said. However protesters want to meet Chief Minister O Panneerselvam.
P Manjunath, a class XI student, says, “Jallikattu is a 500 year old tradition. The court has to lift the ban.”
“There’s no cruelty for bulls. Courts are for people. It is our right to protest, it’s not illegal to protest for banned Jallikattu,” says J Rajesh, an IT professional.
Overnight protests were also on at Alanganallur in Madurai district, where around 200 people were taken into preventive custody on Tuesday morning after they spent a night protesting.
Senior cops say a few fringe political groups are also behind these protests and mobilising crowd via social media.
Jallikattu, which is also referred to as Eruthazhuvuthal locally, is practiced in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations.
The Supreme Court has imposed a ban on the practice currently, citing animal welfare issues. Jallikattu has remained banned for the last three years.
Animal rights activists had appealed against the centuries-old tradition in the Supreme Court citing atrocities to the bulls as a reason. Advocate and Animal Rights Activist, Rudra Krishna says, “you basically see bulls having tails bitten, being stabbed with sickles, agitated, stuff rubbed into their eyes with twenty people jumping on him.”
Recently, a war of words had broken out between DMK Working President MK Stalin and animal rights non-profit PETA over the Jallikattu issue, with the leader calling the animal rights NGO as “anti-national” and the group calling the criticism “cheap and ineffective.”
Over the last few days, protesters held Jallikattu, defying Supreme Court’s order. Scores of people have been arrested across the state.
Police are hopeful the protests would lose steam from Wednesday once educational institutions and tech companies resume work after the extended five-day weekend.