Maharashtra Assembly clears way for bullock-cart race
The traditional bullock-cart races will soon re-start in Maharashtra as the state legislature on Thursday cleared a bill revoking the ban imposed in 2014.
The bill will be sent to the President for a final nod.
Significantly, while the legislators rooted for lifting the ban on bullock-cart racing — which was objected to by animal rights activists on the issue of cruelty to animals — a BJP legislator demanded the death sentence for those involved in slaughtering cows.
Bullock-cart racing has been a popular tradition in some parts of Maharashtra known as ‘Bailgada Sharyat’ or ‘Shankarpat’ in various parts of the state. “Bullock-cart races are conducted on a particular day during fairs in villages. It has played vital role in preserving native breeds as well as maintaining the purity of their breeds and health,” stated the bill.
With this, Maharashtra has become third state to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, to legalise bullock-cart racing after ban on Jallikattu, traditional bull fight in Tamil Nadu was revoked. Animal rights activists had opposed bullock-cart racing alleging that the animals were being subjected to torture in the race.
According to the amendments incorporated in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, those found guilty for pain or suffering to the animal will also have to face with fine up to Rs5 lakh or maximum punishment up to three years in jail.
State animal husbandry minister Mahadev Jankar said that they have taken all the precautions so that animals are not be treated cruelly during the race and thus will not violate any directive passed by the Supreme Court.
During the debate on the bill, BJP legislator Mangalprabhat Lodha demanded death sentence for those involved in slaughtering of cows, being considered holy by Hindus.
While supporting the bill, another BJP legislator Ashish Shelar questioned why horse racing in the city was not banned on similar grounds of cruelty against animals.
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