Protests erupted across Tamil Nadu on Thursday after the Supreme Court decided against passing an order on permitting bull-taming sport Jallikattu before January 14, when the four-day Tamil harvest festival of Pongal is slated to begin.
A students’ protest in Madurai turned violent when police resorted to a lathi-charge in an attempt to disperse them. The agitators maintained that it was a peaceful protest, and they were on their way to the collector’s office to submit a letter in support of Jallikattu when police stopped them. “We only wanted to meet the collector. Jallikattu is our tradition… why should they ban it? They have misunderstood the sport,” said Nagaraj, a law student from the city.
Students in Coimbatore also shouted slogans outside the collector’s office to demand lifting of the court-imposed ban.
Both the ruling AIADMK party and opposition DMK came out with statements portraying the importance of Jallikattu to Tamil culture, and vowed to push the Centre in this regard.
MK Stalin, DMK working president, announced on Thursday that his party would hold protests in every district of the state on Friday to “force the Centre to allow the sport”. AIADMK spokesperson C Saraswati dubbed the apex court decision as “unfortunate,” and said the state government would do everything in its power to ensure that the event is held.
Jallikattu, a traditional bull-taming sport played predominantly in Madurai and its surrounding districts, is a customary sight during the three-day Pongal celebrations. The Supreme Court banned the event in 2014, stating that it amounted to cruelty to animals.
Earlier on Thursday, the apex court rejected a petition seeking an order on Jallikattu before the start of the Pongal festivities on January 14, saying it was “unfair to ask the bench to pass an order”.