Jallikattu ban heats up Tamil Nadu politics, parties hold protests
The Dravidar Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is holding agitations across Tamil Nadu on Friday to protest the Supreme Court’s refusal to pronounce its verdict on popular bull-taming sport Jallikattu before the Pongal festivities.
The state opposition party also accused the Centre and the AIADMK government of “not taking appropriate, timely steps” to ensure that the event was conducted.
DMK activists protested near the Chennai collector’s office in the presence of MK Stalin, the party’s working president, and Kanimozhi, member of Parliament.
“Jallikattu is our tradition, but the Centre and state government have failed to get us the permission to conduct it,” said Stalin. “The Centre should bring an ordinance immediately, and the state should ensure that it’s followed.”
An apex court bench, comprising justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi, had told a group of lawyers on Thursday that it was “unfair to ask the bench to pass an order” on Jallikattu before Saturday – when the Tamil harvest festival is slated to begin.
Recalling the assurances made by both chief minister O Panneerselvam and Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan on lifting the ban, Stalin had asked on Thursday : “What answers are they going to give to the people of Tamil Nadu – especially its youth – now?”
The DMK working president alleged that the AIADMK government was not giving due importance to the issue. “The chief minister wrote a letter to the Centre as usual, but he did not visit Delhi. The central government, for its part, did not take any step to promulgate an ordinance to facilitate the conduct of Jallikattu,” he added.
However, the DMK’s planned agitation did not win the central opposition’s support – with many parties stating that the apex court’s decision must be respected. “Till the time the Supreme Court changes its order, no state or political party has the right to go against its decision,” Nationalist Congress Party leader Tariq Anwar told ANI.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal said it was improper to pressurise the apex court in this fashion. “There are many traditions that do not go hand-in-hand with modernity. You are trying to bring back a banned festival just to achieve a political position in Tamil Nadu,” said RJD leader Manoj Jha.
Meanwhile, animal rights activists took exception to Jallikattu events being held across rural Tamil Nadu in violation of the apex court’s verdict – with many going so far as to demand the imposition of President’s Rule in the state.
The activists, in a letter to home minister Rajnath Singh, requested the Centre to ensure that the state government enforces the court ruling. “If the law continues to be disregarded, we beseech you to exercise powers under Article 356 of the Constitution to ensure that the situation is brought under control, and the law of the land is given the respect it deserves,” the letter said.
As many as 28 people were arrested in connection with an illegal Jallikattu event held in coastal Cuddalore on Thursday. The apex court had banned Jallikattu on grounds of animal cruelty in 2014.