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Jallikattu reflects poorly on India: PETA India CEO after ‘bullying’

PETA and other animal rights activists have become targets for those protesting against the Jallikattu ban.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2017 13:25 IST
Malavika Vyawahare
Malavika Vyawahare
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jallikattu,PETA,Jallikattu protest
A foreign tourist raises her thumb and holds a placard against the car window as she passes students during a demonstration against the ban on the Jallikattu bull taming ritual and a call for a ban on animal rights orgnisation PETA, in Chennai on January 21.(AFP)

PETA, the global animal rights group that had actively campaigned for restrictions against Jallikattu, said on Monday it will study the ordinance that the Tamil Nadu government promulgated to circumvent the 2014 Supreme Court ban on the traditional and popular bull-taming sport.

PETA and other animal rights activists have become targets for those protesting against the Jallikattu ban.

Veteran actor Kamal Haasan and several other Tamil film stars have lashed out at PETA for its opposition to the event that many consider an integral part of Tamil culture. “PETA go ban bull riding rodeos in Mr.Trump’s US. You’re not qualified to tackle our bulls. Empires have been made to quit India (sic),” Haasan tweeted.

Jallikattu washeld on Sunday across the state after the ban was lifted temporarily. On Monday, police forcibly evicted Jallikattu protesters, who put up a resistance against security personnel, in Chennai’s Marina Beach.

They also baton charged and fired tear gas at some places in the Tamil Nadu capital to disperse protesters demanding a permanent solution to the Jallikattu issue.

PETA India CEO Poorva Joshipura, in an email interview with Hindustan Times, said they have only called out for upholding laws that prevent cruelty against animals.

She responded to Haasan’s tweet on Monday saying, “PETA India is an Indian organisation, and animal protection groups like PETA US that operated in the United States do work to stop cruelty to bulls and other animals in their country.”

PETA India CEO Poorva Joshipura. (PETA India website)

Here’s what she said in the interview:

Q. What is your reaction to the ordinance that allows Jallikattu to be held?

A. PETA India’s position is that cruelty to animals, children, the elderly, and others is morally repugnant. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” What, then, do images of men pouncing on a frightened bull and bulls – sometimes liquored up, their tails deliberately broken and their eyes full of chilli peppers – trying to flee their tormentors say about our nation? PETA India believes that one day, all blood sports worldwide will be relegated to the history books, even if that day is not today.

Q. What are the legal options open to PETA if it wants to continue to pursue the ban on Jallikattu?

A. We shall study the new ordinance. Of course, the judgement of the Honourable Supreme Court of India is still pending, and the matter remains sub judice.

“What do images of men pouncing on a frightened bull and bulls--sometimes liquored up, their tails deliberately broken and their eyes full of chilli peppers-- trying to flee their tormentors say about our nation?”

Q. Did you expect this kind of virulent backlash, even calls for banning PETA India? Are you worried?

A. PETA India is being targeted for working via the courts for animals and for upholding India’s own animal protection laws, though it is every citizen’s duty to uphold them. Make no mistake, the targeting of valid efforts by PETA India also means any lawful non-governmental organisation or individual working within their legal right to help animals, women, children, the environment or for any other vital causes in India are also at risk of harassment.

Q. There are reports that PETA is under the government scanner. What can you tell us about this?

A.We have seen the same media reports you have.

Q. Are PETA members facing a physical threat?

A. Yes. PETA India’s staff members are facing a barrage of bullying messages and threats. Bullying is also what the animals endure when they’re chased by men who pounce on them, bite their tails, force-feed them alcohol and jab them with sticks. It’s this bullying that has led to tragedy, including over 5,000 injuries and 43 deaths to humans in Jallikattu events between 2008 and 2014.

Q. There are also charges that PETA is promoting anti-India interests. What is your response to this?

A. PETA India has only called for India’s own laws to be upheld and Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution makes it the mandate of every Indian citizen, “to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures”.

Compassion for animals is Indian, being in support of cruelty is not.

Read| Jallikattu: A sport, a way of life, a symbol of Tamil unity and pride

First Published: Jan 23, 2017 12:26 IST