Ordinance issued, jallikattu to be held tomorrow

Ordinance issued, jallikattu to be held tomorrow
Jallikattu is all set for a grand return in Tamil Nadu tomorrow with an ordinance issued for conducting the bull taming sport after a three-year-long ban but protesters in Marina beach and elsewhere tonight refused to end their agitation unless a "permanent" solution is found. After getting Governor Vidyasagar Rao's assent for the ordinance, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam flew to Madurai for inaugurating the event tomorrow morning in Alanganallur, the main centre where the traditional sport has been held for long. Ministers will preside over similar events elsewhere mainly in southern and western parts of the state.

Even after the Centre and the state government worked feverishly on the ordinance to negate a Supreme Court order, the agitators, mainly comprising youth and students in the "Marina uprising" and elsewhere, have rejected the ordinance route as a "temporary solution". Instead, on the fifth day of their peaceful protests, they declared that they will not disperse until the government finds a "permanent solution" that will not put any obstacles in the future conduct of the sport cherished by Tamil culture for centuries.

In Madurai, District Collector Veeraraghav Rao visited the spot in Alanganallur and told reporters that what people and youth of Tamil Nadu want will take place. He said around 350 bulls will participate in the flagship event. "Even if the chief minister comes, it is doubtful if jallikattu will be held with the present mood among the protesters," said an organiser. Earlier in Chennai, Panneerselvam announced the approval given by the Governor for the ordinance and said he will launch jallikattu in Alanganallur at 10 am.

In a bid to assuage apprehensions of the agitators, he aaid a draft Bill to replace the ordinance and amend the PCA Act paving the way for holding jallikattu without any hindrance will be introduced and adopted in the next session of the state Assembly starting January 23. Moving swiftly, the Centre last night cleared the ordinance paving the way for Tamil Nadu government to promulgate it in an effort to end the protests. Rao, who is Governor of Maharashtra, holds Tamil Nadu as additional charge and reached Chennai in the evening to give his approval.

Jallikattu remained banned following a Supreme Court order in May 2014. "I urge the youths, students and the general public to make the jallikattu events across Tamil Nadu a grand success by participating in large numbers," said the chief minister, who also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support. Panneerselvam said the assent of President Pranab Mukherjee to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 by Tamil Nadu was received last night.

"The assent for the ordinance (amending the PCA Act) has been obtained from Govenor also," Panneerselvam said, adding, "our dream to conduct jallikattu this year has come true." Panneerselvam wrote a letter to the prime minister thanking him for his support. "On behalf of the Government and people of Tamil Nadu, I thank you for all your support and assistance in enabling Jallikattu to be held in Tamil Nadu once again during the Pongal season upholding the culture and tradition of the people of Tamil Nadu," he said in the letter.

Panneerselvam also spoke to Modi over telephone and conveyed his gratitude for getting the ordinance approved. The chief minister maintained that even the ordinance route is a permanent solution. Recalling his earlier interaction with Prime Minister on January 19 to enable conduct of jallikattu, Panneerselvam said the Tamil Nadu Government issued an Ordinance after obtaining prior instructions of the President as envisaged under Article 213 of the Constitution.

"The Ordinance was promulgated today by the Government of Tamil Nadu and Jallikatu is to be conducted with customary fervour all over the State with all necessary safeguards." Earlier in the day, Modi said all efforts are being made to fulfil the cultural aspirations of the people of Tamil Nadu. "We are very proud of the rich culture of Tamil Nadu. All efforts are being made to fulfil the cultural aspirations of Tamil people," he tweeted.

Modi said the central government is fully committed to the progress of Tamil Nadu and will always work to ensure the state scales new avenues of progress. Several people across the state welcomed the decision, saying jallikattu was part of Tamil culture and steps should be taken immediately to make it a permanent feature. DMK working president M K Stalin welcomed the ordinance but wanted a permanent solution.

"We want an assurance from the central government that it would amend the PCA Act in the upcoming session of parliament if the supreme court quashes the ordinance sometime later," said Anbumani Ramadoss, who is Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) youth wing president and son of party president S Ramadoss. Jallikattu supporters during the day staged rail blockade at Madurai even as train services continued to remain affected due to the ongoing stir. The Southern Railway announced cancellation of some trains besides diversion of others.

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