Police detained at least 30 people at a village in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai district where hundreds of Jallikattu enthusiasts defied a Supreme Court ban on the bull-taming sport on Monday, for the third successive day.
Police erected barricades at Alanganallur and prevented people from holding Jallikattu but thousands of people assembled there in protest. The protesters alleged that police were stopping people from reaching Alanganallur.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court refused to advance its judgment on a clutch of petitions challenging a notification by the Centre allowing Jallikattu this year.
The apex court had banned Jallikattu on grounds of animal cruelty in 2014 – drawing protests from political parties across the state. In November last year, SC dismissed the state government’s plea for a review of its judgment.
As the crowd that began to gather early in the morning swelled into thousands, their strong presence gave the police little chance to control them.
At least 200 policemen formed a three-tier ring at the village to prevent the sport from being played in accordance with the Supreme Court ban. Initially, the police had to allow the villagers who came with their bulls for traditional puja – application of turmeric and vermillion – after which the animals were led away.
However, as a bull came charging in – a signal the Jallikattu supporters were waiting for – people pounced on the animal that seemed confused as it was surrounded.
The police detained at least 30 people as the number of protesters on the ground grew.
A tension was palpable in the area as reports of Jallikattu being held in nearby places came in. Protesters wore black badges, tied black ribbons to the horns of the bulls and also hoisted black flags on their houses to decry the ban.
In Sivaganga, rekala or bullock cart races were also held along with Jalikattu in defiance of the SC order that banned bullock cart races as well. At Kattikulam in Sivaganga, at least 10 bulls were let loose by 11am for the youth to chase them.
As the focus and concentration of the police were on the traditionally well-known Jallikattu venues, the participants chose to quietly hold the sport on the outskirts of smaller villages.
On Sunday, police detained several people at Mudakathan, Alanganallur, Palamedu and Vilangudi in Madurai district, at Nallampatti in Dindigul district and Pottuchavadi in Thanjavur district in the state for attempting to organise the sport.
Die-hard Jallikattu supporters along with major political parties in Tamil Nadu have been demanding an ordinance for conducting Jallikattu after the Supreme Court imposed a ban on it. On Saturday, 149 persons were detained in Madurai district for staging protests against the ban.