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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Supreme Court bans Jallikattu - animals do have right to live peacefully

It is a place associated with Keshari dynasty; capital of Kingdom of Rana Anangabhimadeva of Ganga dynasty, Gajapathi kings, under Maratha rules and more.  It is Cuttack, the former capital and the second largest city in the state of Odisha. Also known as the 'Millennium City' or the 'Silver City', it is the headquarters of Cuttack district and is located about 28 km to the north east of Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha. The name Katak is derived from Sanskrit, and means a military establishment.   
Not sure how it was awarded the match between KXIP Vs CSK … fans were in for a real treat.  Glenn Maxwell fell within touching distance of a century for the fourth time in the competition, but neither he nor Kings XI Punjab were complaining in the end. Punjab made  231 - and though Super Kings managed 187, at no stage were they serious contenders in the chase.  There was carnage as bulls ran untamed ….the last ten produced a whopping 162, an IPL record, of which the last five produced 78. It was Miller-Maxwell partnership and then George Bailey on rampage.   

IPL has entertained and has been subject matter of many controversies and court cases too… this is about another landmark judgment on a game……… one which has impacted the southern part of Tamilnadu in a huge way.  It has its place in Sangam literature and considered a game of honour.  It is Jallikattu  (Aeru thazhuvuthal),  a bull taming sport of our State.  Unlike its western cousin, the bull is seldom killed and here the matadors do not use any weapons.  It is also known as manju virattu – chasing the bull.

Is it daredevilry ? a game ? or torturing bulls or losing men trying to prove their valour ? what happens to those who get killed ? and lose their limbs / senses ?  - answers depend on perception – now you have a clear decision from the Apex Court.


Animal lovers have been seeking ban; earlier a Bench considered it barbaric involving cruelty of animals; Govt pleaded it a sport and now there are restrictions in place. In this game (!) an agitated bull is set to run in an open space, where several youth, empty handed try to tame it by controlling its horns.  The winner gets a booty, becomes darling of the crowd.  The most famous ones are held in and around Madurai at Alanganallur, Avaniapuram, Palemedu, Thammampatti in Salem, Ponnamaravathi in Pudukottai,  Pallavarayanpatti near Theni to name a few.  In 2007, for the first time, both the bulls and the matadors of the famed Alanganallur Jallikattu were subjected to breathalyser test to ensure that they had not consumed alcohol.

Now the Apex Court has banned the traditional bullfight stating ‘animals do have the right to live peacefully’.  Upholding animal rights and pointing out the "untold cruelty" the bovines are subjected to, the Supreme Court on Wednesday banned centuries-old Jallikattu-bullfights and bullock-cart racing- organised during festivals in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring states.  Significantly, the bench headed by Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan favoured elevating the rights of the animals to "constitutional rights".  "The Parliament, it is expected, would elevate rights of animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many other countries, to protect their dignity and honour," the bench said.  The bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Misra said, “Forcing a bull and keeping it in the waiting area for hours and subjecting it to the scorching sun is not for the animal’s well-being. Forcing and pulling the bull by a nose rope into the narrow, closed enclosure or ‘vadi vassal’ (entry point), subjecting it to all forms of torture, fear, pain and suffering by forcing it to go the arena and also over-powering it in the arena by bull tamers, are not for the well-being of the animal.”  It said the torture and cruelty meted out to the bulls was unimaginable. “Being dumb and helpless, they suffer in silence. We notice that the situation is the same in Maharashtra too.”

Welcoming the SC order, animal rights association People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said it is a landmark victory for animals in India.  A newspaper cites Bench as stating - "Sadism and perversity is writ large in the actions of the organisers of Jallikattu and the event is meant not for the wellbeing of the animal but for the pleasure and enjoyment of human beings, particularly the organisers and spectators".
There is another gory game : Spanish bull fighting, a popular sport (!!) conducted in an arena where the bull enters the ring, then an assistant waves a bright yellow and magenta cape infront to anger it,  the top fighter called Matador and fighters Picadores weaken the bull by piercing spears.  The matador has a sword called espada; the bull eventually drops dead.  There could be rules and variations, which we may not understand much ~ jallikattu has been far less cruel – yet as the Court observed it is torture of animals.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

8th May 2014.

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