Thousands of protesters thronged Marina Beach in Chennai on Thursday against a court ban on Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu’s popular but controversial bull-taming sport played during Pongal festivities in mid-January.
They have demanded lifting of restrictions on the sport, a ban on animal rights campaign group PETA, and an audience with chief minister O Panneerselvam.
The chief minister didn’t go to Marina, but rushed to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The CM batted for an emergency ordinance to allow the sport. Also, he implored the protesters to end their demonstration.
Highlights of the day
9:00pm: The ongoing protests over Jallikattu in neighbouring Tamil Nadu had its echo in Karnataka, with Tamil groups organising an agitation demanding that the ban on the bull-taming sport be lifted.
8:20pm: Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the state government has the power to enact a law to treat Jallikattu as a traditional sport, but cautioned that the animals should not be harmed or cruelly treated during such events.
8:00pm: Supporting the demand for holding of jallikattu, the VHP said the judiciary should not interfere in ancient beliefs of the Hindus and that those who are “sentimental” about bulls’ lives better demand a ban on cow slaughter.
“We urge all in the society at large, in all governments, judiciary and media not to interfere in ancient beliefs, faiths and religious feelings of Hindus like jallikattu, Ganesh/Durga visarjan etc,” VHP international working president Pravin Togadia said.
7:30pm: With PM Modi virtually indicating his government’s inability to promulgate an ordinance to allow Jallikattu, the DMK termed it “regrettable” and said if CM O Panneeselvam had taken an all party delegation to meet him, the feelings of the people of the state could have been expressed better.
7:00pm: BJP’s state unit welcomed the meeting between Modi and CM O Panneerselvam on the Jallikattu issue, saying it was a “healthy approach” and lauded the PM for creating an opportunity to highlight the “strong feelings” of the state.
6:30pm: Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar backed the revoking of the ban on Tamil Nadu’s controversial bull-taming sport -- Jallikattu -- describing it as “a game for which both the bull and the people are prepared well”.
6:10pm: Protests demanding the lifting of the ban on ‘Jallikattu’ have spread to beyond India, with the Tamil diaspora in Sri Lanka, Britain and Australia holding demonstrations, PTI reported. Hundreds of UK-based Indian Tamils have come together to organise a series of protests in favour of Jallikattu this week in London and across the UK.
6:00pm: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India said it may take the legal route if the Centre brings an ordinance to enable the conduct of Jallikattu or continue its campaign to create awareness against the holding of the bull-taming sport.
“Our campaign is against cruelty towards all animals. We will consult our lawyers and take a decision if there is an ordinance,” PETA spokesperson Manilal Valliyate told PTI.
5:00pm: AR Rahman joins the debate. The star musician says he’ll be on fast on Friday to support the spirit of Tamil Nadu.
4:20pm: The ripples of Jallikattu protests were felt in Delhi, with scores of people including students from Tamil Nadu demonstrating against the ban on the bull-taming sport.
3:55pm: PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss staged dharna (sit-in) outside the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi , seeking the ordinance lifting ban on the bull-taming sport.
Speaking to reporters, former Union health minister Ramadoss also warned that his party men will go ahead with conducting the event in case the Centre failed to pass the ordinance before Republic Day and also cautioned that violent protest may follow if the demand was not met with.
3:50pm: Chess champion Viswanathan Anand says Jallikattu is a cultural symbol . “...Respect it. Im all for animal rights but here that is not the point.tradition & livelihood are,” he tweeted.
3:40pm: The Supreme Court preferred to stay away from the pro-Jallikattu protests across Tamil Nadu and said the issue of protecting the agitating supporters of the bull-taming sport can be raised before the Madras high court.
3:25pm: DMK working president MK Stalin urged Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam to call an all-party meeting during the day as well as a special assembly sitting on Friday over the Jallikattu issue.
2:15 pm: “Congress respects rights of people of Tamil Nadu to preserve the culture and protect rich tradition of Jallikattu,” says RS Surjewala of the Congress. “It is responsibility of Centre and state to respect sentiments & strike a balance on safety and safeguard,” he adds.
2:00 pm: The Madras high court Advocates Association has announced boycott of the courts on Friday in support of state wide protests demanding a lifting ban on Jallikattu.
1:30 pm: Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) leader and Dharmapuri MP Anbumani Ramadoss is protesting outside the residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi due to the latter’s refusal to meet him for a discussion over the bull taming sport of Jallikattu.
12:40 pm: “Gave letter to PM saying that ban on Jallikattu must be lifted and Centre should draft an ordinance on it,” ANI quoting Tamil Nadu CM O Panneerselvam. “PM Modi said he gives highest importance to cultural values of the state. He assured he will extend full support to us,” he added.
12:15 pm: Spiritual guru Ravi Shankar supports Jallikattu, says, “Pongal is the biggest festival in Tamil Nadu,bigger than Holi and Diwali,and Jallikattu is an intergral part of Pongal.”
11:40 am: “The ban imposed on Jallikattu by the Supreme Court came up for discussion. While appreciating the cultural significance of Jallikattu, the Prime Minister observed that the matter is presently sub-judice,” tweets PM Modi after meeting Tamil Nadu chief minister O Pannerselvam.
11:00 am: Supreme Court refuses to admit a plea filed which sought that apex court should hear the matter pertaining to the public protest against Jallikattu ban at Marina beach. The Supreme Court asked the petitioner to approach the concerned Court.
10:25 am: Chief minister O Panneerselvam arrives at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urge ordinance on Jallikattu.
10:15 am: Several colleges have declared holiday in Chennai and in other parts of the state, the number of students to assemble at Marina is expected to go up.
10:00 am: At the Marina beach here, protesters sat through Wednesday night and on Thursday morning, they helped in cleaning up the area which is a litter free zone.
(With agency inputs)