Bullock cart racing in Rural Olympics banned

Following serious objections raised by the Indian chapter of International Organisation for Animal Protection (OIPA) and People for Animals, the popular rural sport of bullock cart racing in Haryana and Punjab has been brought to a close.

The Union ministry of Environment and Forests had issued a notification to this effect, earlier. Consequently, the three-day annual sports event, dubbed as Rural Olympics, began on Thursday in Punjab’s Kila Raipur village near Ludhiana sans the bullock-cart racing.

The bullock cart racing evokes huge response in this border state. It has been in vogue since 1933. However, voices have been raised against the event citing cruelty towards animals. 

The event organisers now intend to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking relief. Media advisor, OIPA, Abhishek Kadyan said the Animal Welfare Board of India had written to competent authorities in Punjab that bullock cart racing should not be held. More than 100 bullock cart owners used to participate in the event.

Ministry notificationThe Ministry of Environment and Forests had notified that the exhibition or training of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, lions and bulls as performing animals was banned.

However, despite the notification, the event organisers had been publicising the bullock cart races as one of the attractions till Wednesday. 

This forced the OIPA to raise the issue with the police. The complaint said it wanted to save animals from cruelty.

The Italy-based OIPA’s Indian chapter had sought the police to book Jagbir Singh Grewal and other office-bearer of Grewal Sports Association and owners of the animals for the violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) if they did not comply with the ban.

The rural sports festival in Punjab has become an international attraction which sees participation by NRIs from England, Canada and USA. 

The event attracts sponsors from multinational companies which offer big prize money to winners.An organiser of the event confirmed that the bullock cart race had been off on Thursday. Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tiwari said he had asked the police commissioner to look into the matter.

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