After animal rights activists successfully torpedoed Jallikattu for this year, by obtaining a stay on holding of the bull taming sport in Tamil Nadu, its supporters have begun to question the elitist stance of the urban educated and affluent sections of the society that remains silent on horse racing.
Seeking a similar ban on horse racing on similar grounds of cruelty, Karithikeya Sivasenapathy, chief of the Senaapathy Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation (SKCRF) based in Tiruppur said that race horse breeders shoot and kill eight of the ten horse calves that do not make the grade of race steeds.
The same animal rights activists, Peta, People for Animals or even Animal Welfare Board of India do not speak one word against horse racing because of the huge sponsorships, big money and high profile people involved with the sport, he alleged and charged them with an elitist bias in targeting the farmers and villagers who are often poor and unorganized and inarticulate.
But the Jallikattu organisers are getting around this problem and have got themselves articulate English speaking faces. Software engineer Balakumar Somu is a member of the Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Peravai, Madurai, that organizes the bull taming sport in the region and runs a twitter campaign , we want Jallikattu. He lives and works at Coimbatore, though.
Other youngsters like him are also coming around to articulate the feelings, sentiments, pains and problems of the farming community for whom Jallikattu is much more than a mere sport.
Balakumar is blunt in questioning the very elitist bias in ‘targetting of the Jallikattu”. He calls for a ban on all sports that involve animals – whether it is horse racing or dog shows. “Ban everything or do not ban anything,” is his punchline as he holds forth on the attack against the rural, agrarian society from the MNCs through animal rights bodies such as Peta and Animal Welfare Board of India.
Balakumar also has a problem with the media that dubs Jallikattu as barbaric and bloody. Has anyone seen the sport? They are just giving it a bad name and killing it, Balakumar said echoing the sentiments of several Jallikattu supporters.
The animal rights activists never question horse racing or dog shows, where corporate bigwigs participate, Balakumar said. The same PETA never talks about temple elephants, some of which go mad and kill people, because of the inhuman treatment meted out to them.
Balakumar or for that matter, Himakuran Anugula, author, researcher and cattle breeder based in Chennai, charge these elitist activists with targeting poor farmers and taking away their livelihood.
They are not corporate farmers, they are landless laborers grazing cattle, by hitting at Jallikattu.
This ancient sport is much more than a sport, he said, adding this is how the bulls are chosen for stud services. In villages, often the temple bull, chosen after Jallikattu, is used to service the village cows.
The Jallikattu ban thus attacks the rural life in many ways, which must not be allowed, he said.
Raja Marthandan, an XLRI management graduate and previously owning a transport business, has now completely moved into organic farming. Now 35, he has been into Jallikattu ever since he got a prized bull as a gift for getting 93 per cent in Plus Two examination, some 18 years ago.
He does not see conspiracy theories like others, who see a sinister design of MNCs through animal rights activists in destroying Jallikattu, Marthandan certainly agrees that it has become fashionable to declare self as an animal rights activist. “Oh I saved a puppy today,” kind of activists never understand the many faceted Jallikattu and what it means to the people, he said adding Jallikattu is an event held to identify best of the breed of bull – all breeds are bred across the world on selective breeding – and later used to service the cows. It is the progeny of the Jallikattu bull that are used for work.
Now the campaign for Jallikattu will become slicker, smarter and bigger, said another activist.