Jallikattu must go; apex court is right

The Supreme Court has done well to issue an interim order banning Jallikattu. In doing so, it has overturned a January 2016 notification issued by the Centre that reversed a 2014 SC ban on the practice of Jallikattu. The Centre’s notification had riled animal lovers and others, who took the matter to the court. A bull taming sport that is part of the Pongal celebrations in Tamil Nadu, Jallikattu is a popular tradition among the masses, especially in rural areas of the state. However, it is a cruel tradition as violence is used to tame the bull. Its modern avatar is worse as torture and sadism are used to break the bull’s body and spirit, even as audience go gaga over it. In fact, Jallikattu, as it is practiced today, has nothing to do with the traditional bull taming. It has become a blood sport where sadism is celebrated. Prizes are tied to the bull’s tail, horns and ears and the ‘tamers’ sometimes rip these body parts off the bulls to ‘win’ these prizes. Chilli powder is sprayed on the animal to enrage it and make the conquering of the bull ‘exciting’ for the audience. It is to halt this torture of bulls that the SC banned Jallikattu in 2014. Attempts were made earlier to regulate the way it is practised. Guidelines were issued to ensure that it did not involve torture. However, these were not followed, forcing the SC to ban it outright. By lifting the ban, the Centre acted to endorse sadism. The SC has halted this perverse practice for now.

It is to woo voters ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu that the BJP-led government at the Centre decided to lift the ban on Jallikattu. It was a politically expedient move. Unfortunately, all political parties in the state came out in support of the practice. Their justification for supporting Jallikattu was that it is a part of the Tamil tradition. This is a weak argument. Barbaric practices are indefen-sible, even if they are a part culture and tradition. It is unfortunate that the Dravidian parties, which once opposed superstition and irrational traditions, are using the culture argument to defend inhumane practices.

Chief Minister J Jayalalitha has urged the Centre to promulgate an ordinance allowing Jallikattu this year. It would be deplorable if the Narendra Modi government does so, as this would undermine the stature of the judiciary. The Tamil Nadu government must mobilise the state machinery to enforce the SC order. It must ensure that Jallikattu does not take place in the state this Pongal.
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