New Delhi: Jallikattu seems set to become legal again, with the Centre and Tamil Nadu government working in tandem to bring a state ordinance to evade an SC ban on the traditional and popular bull-taming sport.
A draft ordinance that the state government sent to the Union home ministry on Friday was cleared by the law and environment ministries.
The levels were cleared for a decree after 2 days of restless government consultations, amid growing anger and protests in the Tamil Nadu over restrictions to hold the Jallikattu sport that has altered into a symbol of Tamil pride.
Chief Minister O Panneerselvan stated in Chennai on Friday that the state’s governor would publicize an ordinance to skirt the ban on Jallikattu after President Pranab Mukherjee gives his approval to it. The statement is expected in the next 24 hours.
A home ministry spokesperson, though, stated governor C Vidyasagar Rao could publicize the ordinance even without the President’s approval.
“Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, the happy news will come. For sure, Jallikattu will be held in Tamil Nadu,” stated Panneerselvam, who had dashed to New Delhi after promising protesters back home that he would argue the Centre for an ordinance. He met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
The ban on Jallikattu initiated mass protests across the state while thousands assembled on Marina beach, the Chennai landmark, in support of Jallikattu. The protests spread abroad too, with the Tamil diaspora holding rallies in Sri Lanka, Britain and Australia.
Protesters at the signature seafront site — the ground zero of anti-ban demonstrations for the past 4 days — greeted the chief minister’s announcement on the ordinance with loud cheers and claps. But declared that they won’t move until a formal order is out and court lifted the ban.
“We will not withdraw unless Jallikattu is detained and PETA is banned,” stated a protester, uttering the anger against the animal rights group that had actively campaigned for the ban.
The Centre made an “unusual” appeal in the Supreme Court on Friday, with attorney general Mukul Rohatgi ask for a bench headed by Justice Dipak Mishra not to deliver its judgment for a week on the validity of a government notification that allowed Jallikattu. The Supreme Court agreed.
“Passions are very high right now. People of Tamil Nadu are zealous about Jallikattu … It has nothing to do with the court. It is a social unrest … My request is the judgment may be delayed for some time,” the attorney general stated.
The ordinance will be circulated to amend the 57-year-old Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the law the Supreme Court mentioned to ban Jallikattu in 2014, stating it amounted to cruelty to the bulls.
Section 28 of this law allows killing of any animal in a manner required by a community’s religion. Official sources stated this section could be pinched to allow bull-taming for cultural reasons. Home ministry officials debated that since the proposed amendment was not in violation of the central legislation, it might not require prior consent of the President.
The chief minister, however, stated the governor would promulgate it after the President’s approval.
The ordinance might be subject to legal analysis and that could keep tensions smoldering.
The protests have moved further than a court ban on a sport. The outpouring of support for Jallikattu is a replication of many wrongs — perceived and real — that “Delhi” or the Centre has done to the “Tamil people”.
The sport has become a substance to publicize a host of grievances such as the killing of Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy, the Tamil Eelam and the Cauvery river water dispute.
Jallikattu is likely to have a long-term impact on state politics, though protesters swore that politics has little to do with their protest.
“The fight is much larger, and the Jallikattu struggle is the expression of people’s anger over the Centre’s step-motherly treatment to Tamil Nadu,” stated Mridula Srinivasan, a college student camping on Marina beach for the last 2 days.
The stir exaggerated on Friday with most of the trade unions, business associations, transport unions, auto unions and taxi, and bank employees’ unions calling a bandh in the state capital Chennai. Schools suspended classes for the day in support of the sport.
The opposition DMK and film artists launched separate protests, including a fast by Oscar-winning music composer AR Rahman. The DMK proclaimed its leaders and workers will block trains.
Police stated the growing number of protesters had become a matter of concern.