HOW THE BULLS IN TAMILNADU LOST THE JALLIKATTU BATTLE
and in the same time
THE BULLS IN PUNJAB WON IN KILA RAIPUR
THE DIFFERENCE IS POLITICAL & BUREAUCRATIC WILL
JALLIKATTU – INTRODUCTION, AND AN OVERVIEW : Jallikattu, or Eruthazhuvuthal, or Manju Virattu is a controversial bull taming event that takes place in Tamil Nadu as a part of the Pongal celebrations. It is one of the most ancient ‘sports’ that continues till day and age despite increasing controversy and opposition surrounding it. In fact, Jallikattu is increasingly regarded at par with ‘traditions’ as outdated as sati and child marriage, even by Tamilians proud of their ancient culture.
The event is held in the villages of Tamil Nadu as a part of the village festival, that takes place between January to July, every year. It usually starts at Palamedu, a village located near Madurai on January 15th, followed by the Alanganallur-Jallikattu in Alanganallur, another village near Madurai on January 16th. Bulls are specifically bred, and imparted some measure of training for this event.
The three versions of jallikattu are Vadi manju virattu, Vaelli virattu, and Vadam manjuvirattu.
- The first, i.e. Vadi manju virattu involves the bull being released from an enclosure with an opening. As the bull comes out of the enclosure, one person clings to the hump of the bull, and in the endeavour to shake him off, the bull bolts. As per the rules, only one person is supposed to attempt catching the bull, but this rule is rarely enforced.
- In Vaeli virattu, which is supposed to be the most ‘natural’, bulls are not restricted in any way by ropes or pre-determined pathways. The bull, once released, runs in any direction in an open field, and the ‘players’ attempt to ‘tame’ the bull.
- In Vadam manjuvirattu, the bull is tied to a 15 meter long rope, and ‘free’ to move within its span. A team of 7 to 9 members has then to attempt to subdue the bull within 30 minutes.
THE SHEER CRUELTY INVOLVED :
For the participants and the spectators, it is a dangerous ‘sport’, involving injuries, and often resulting in death. For the bulls that are forced to participate in the event, the ‘sport’ is extremely cruel. Bulls are :
- Harassed, beaten, prodded, and tormented, thereby driving them to frenzy during the Jallikattu event ;
- Their tails are tugged at, and often broken, in a bid to provoke them ;
- With the covert or overt support of the organizers, participants/spectators rub chilli powder into the eyes of the animals ;
- The bulls are often drugged with steroids and force-fed with alcohol ;
- There is recorded evidence showing mobs loading crackers on to the bulls, clipping electric nodes to their bodies, injecting lime water, salt, and chilli to render them crazed and desperate with pain, discomfiture, and acute fear ;
- When a bull is extremely hysterical, the spectators chase him down and nail him to the ground.
If each such action is an out and out violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the “training” that precedes the event, is supposed to be even more cruel.
SIGNIFICANT JALLIKATTU LITIGATION – RUN DOWN TO THE PRESENT SITUATION :
The rundown to the present litigation / situation can be said to have commenced on the 29th March, 2006. A learned Single Judge of the Madras High Court bench at Madurai dismissed Writ Petition No. 2966/2006 filed by one K. Muniasamythevar, challenging a District Police order disallowing bullock cart races, & similar events. The judge disallowed jallikattu & bullock cart races, holding them as being ABSOLUTELY CONTRARY to Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and hence, falling squarely within definition of CRUELTY.
One year later, on the 9th March, 2007, however, a Division Bench of the said High Court overruled the order passed by the learned Single Judge, and ALLOWED jallikattu, and bullock cart races.
In July, 2007, therefore, the Animal Welfare Board of India filed Special Leave Petition No. 11686 of 2007 before the Supreme Court of India, against the High Court order dated 9th March, 2007, allowing jallikattu. This petition is titled “Animal Welfare Board of India Versus A. Nagaraja & Ors.”
On the 27th of July, 2007, the Supreme Court of India, vide an interim order passed in the AWBI’s SLP No. 11686 of 2007, stayed the Division Bench order, AND STAYED JALLIKATTU.
This led to an outcry at Chennai, and to several applications being filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, urging that the stay order passed be vacated by the Court. & very unfortunately, on the 11th January, 2008, the Supreme Court of India partially modified its order of 27th July, 2007, and ALLOWED BULLOCK CART RACES.
IN JANUARY, 2008, THE STATE OF TAMIL NADU ENTERED THE FRAY.
The State of Tamil Nadu petitioned the Supreme Court to vacate the stay order passed by it on the 27th of July, 2007 ; and on the 15th of January, 2008, the Supreme Court of India vacated the interim order and PERMITTED the conduct of jallikattu, subject to “safeguards” meant to protect the participants, the spectators, and the bulls.
In July, 2009, the State of Tamil Nadu enacted the TAMIL NADU REGULATION OF JALLIKATTU ACT, 2009, laying down “guidelines” for regulating the “sport”, and providing safety measures in order to ensure safety of the participants and spectators.
The Act says VERY LITTLE about the bulls, and measures to protect them, and ensure that they are not cruelly treated.
PETA then filed W.P. No. 145 of 2011, before the Supreme Court of India, & CHALLENGED the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009. The State of Tamil Nadu, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, and the Animal Welfare Board of India have been impleaded as respondents to this petition.
The PETA petition, and the Animal Welfare Board of India petition, and other jallikattu litigation pending before the Supreme Court of India, is all likely to be taken up for hearing and disposal in JULY, 2012.]
THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT, MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS, BANS THE USE OF BULLS AS PERFORMING ANIMALS
On the 11th of July, 2011, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, then ably headed by the Minister, Shri Jairam Ramesh, issued a notification under Section 22 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act issued in the Official Gazette, and banned the use of bulls as performing animals.
‘Bulls’ is a generic term, which is meant to include bullocks, oxen, etc. This has been specifically clarified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in their response to a Right to Information application filed by activist Amruta Ubale.
HOW THE JALLIKATTU BATTLE HAS BEEN DELIBERATELY LOST THIS SEASON – JANUARY TO MAY, 2012 :
Since the Central Government has banned the use of bulls as PERFORMING ANIMALS by issuing the notification dated 11th July, 2011, under Section 22(ii) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, there ought actually to have been no jallikattu at Tamil Nadu from this ‘season’.
Section 22 (ii) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act envisages that no person shall exhibit or train as a PERFORMING ANIMAL, any animal which the Central Government by notification in the official gazette specifies.
This Notification was issued by the Central Government after due application of mind, and after considering substantial data demonstrating that not only is jallikattu immensely dangerous for the participants and spectators, it is also extremely cruel and torturous for the bulls that are subjected to it, and forced to participate.
[Moreover, all data available with the Animal Welfare Board of India, from the observers that Supreme Court Court orders allow it to position at jallikattu events, in order to witness and record, is a testimony to the fact that none of the safeguards specified by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India as mandatory for the conduct of jallikattu, have been adhered to by the organizers, and bull owners]
However, the State of Tamil Nadu chose to ‘allow’ the conduct of jallikattu, by taking the specious argument that bulls participating in jallikattu events ARE NOT ‘PERFORMING ANIMALS’ since tickets are not issued for jallikattu events!
It is pertinent that before the Supreme Court, the State of Tamil Nadu has already conceded that bulls participating in jallikattu events ARE PERFORMING ANIMALS, and therefore liable to be registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India under the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001. It is also pertinent that in the 2011 jallikattu season, only bulls registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India under the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001were allowed to participate in the events that were organized.
In the meantime, in January, 2012, before the commencement of this jallikattu season, one K.R.Ambalatharasu, President of the Jallikattu Organizing Committee of Sivaganga District, filed W.P. (M.D.) No.15167 of 2011 before the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, and challenged the Notification of the Ministry of Environment and Forests dated 11th July, 2011, banning the use of bulls as performing animals. The Ministry of Environment and Forests, and the Animal Welfare Board of India were both impleaded as respondents.
ANY reasonable person would have expected BOTH, the Ministry and the Animal Welfare Board of India, to strongly contest the petition.
The Animal Welfare Board of India, which functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, in its turn filed a Writ Petition in order to fend off the challenge to the Ministry’s notification dated 11th July, 2011, banning the use of bulls as performing animals. The Board prayed that the Notification issued by the Ministry be upheld and implemented.
(ANY reasonable person would have presumed that the Ministry would file such a petition ; or at least agree to be arrayed as co-petitioner. NEITHER, however, happened.)
Other persons, such as the intrepid, indomitable activist, Radha Rajan of Chennai, also filed similar petitions.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests, and the State of Tamil Nadu, among others, were arrayed as respondents in the petition filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India. Needless to state, no relief was sought against the Ministry of Environment and Forests, which was impleaded as proforma respondent only ; and merely its support to the stand taken by the Animal Welfare Board of India was expected.
However, let alone support the Animal Welfare Board of India’s litigation, or even its very own Notification dated 11th July, 2011, banning the use of bulls as performing animals,
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has not cared to file its reply, and reveal its stand before the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, till date, despite the several opportunities granted to it;
All jallikattu petitions before the Court, whether pro MOEF notification & anti jallikattu, or anti MOEF notification & pro jallikattu, are therefore getting ADJOURNED from date to date;
NO CONCLUSIVE ORDER, either striking down, or upholding the Notification, is therefore being passed ; AND
Since the Ministry of Environment and Forests is not taking a stand in the matter, the State of Tamil Nadu’s action, in suddenly ‘holding’ the bulls participating in jallikattu events as not being performing animals, even though it had conceded in November, 2010, before the Hon’ble Supreme Court that they are indeed performing animals, is doing the damage that it was intended to do : if bulls are not performing animals, the Ministry’s notification of 11th July, 2011, would be inapplicable to them. IT WOULD THEREFORE NOT BE POSSIBLE TO CONTEND THAT IN VIEW OF THE MINISTRY’S NOTIFICATION OF 11TH JULY, 2011, JALLIKATTU CANNOT NOW BE LAWFULLY HELD.
While the Centre, i.e. the Ministry of Environment and Forests maintains COMPLETE SILENCE, jallilkattu is in progress in the State of Tamil Nadu. Hundreds of bulls have been, are being tortured, tormented, teased, and forced to “sport and play”.
THE BULLS HAVE LOST THE BATTLE THIS JALLIKATTU SEASON.
AND the most significant alteration in position between July, 2011, when the Ministry’s Notification banning the use of bulls as performing animals was issued, and January, 2012, is that the Ministry of Environment and Forests is now headed by A TAMIL NADU POLITICIAN.
HOW THE KILA RAIPUR BULLOCK CART RACES BATTLE WAS WON THIS SEASON – 9TH TO 12TH FEBRUARY, 2012 :
In what is probably a FIRST for this season, and many previous seasons too, bullock cart races, which are reported to be happening at Maharashtra, and in parts of Punjab, DESPITE the Central Government’s ban on the use of bulls, bullocks, oxen, etc. as performing animals with effect from 11th July, 2011, were SUCCESSFULLY STOPPED at the Kila Raipur Rural Olympics, 2012.
The Kila Raipur Rural Olympics, which take place at Ludhiana in February each year, & are stated to represent the ‘great spirit of sports and Punjabi and Indian culture’. The bullock cart races that they feature, are a great draw ; and bullocks are transported to the venue from far and near, often involving considerable cruelty in the transportation. The races themselves are extremely cruel and very harrowing too, for the bullocks, since bullocks are not horses and they do not ‘enjoy’ racing about the place !
The SEQUENCE OF EVENTS which led up to this year’s spectacular ban, was as follows:
In early February, 2012, activist Sandeep Jain alerted the Animal Welfare Board of India that the programme circulated, of events to be held at the much publicised Kila Raipur Rural Olympics, was according prominence to the bullock cart races scheduled for the 9th of February, 2012, the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ ban notwithstanding.
The Board faxed letters to the Chief Secretary, State of Punjab, and district administration officials and police officials, on the 8th of February, 2012, requiring them to uphold the law, and enforce the ban.
PETA India, through Dr. Manilal Valliyate, also stepped in, and urged the district & police authorities to enforce the ban.
The district administration and the police authorities at Ludhiana swung into action ; and on the morning of the 9th of February, 2012, reached the venue where the bullock cart races as a part of the Kila Raipur Rural Olympics were to be held. In the face of protests and uproar, they stood firm : THEY REFUSED TO ALLOW BULLOCK CART RACES TO BE HELD, citing the Animal Welfare Board of India’s letter of 8th February, 2012, and the Ministry of Environment and Forest’s notification of 11th July, 2011, banning the use of bulls as performing animals.
[‘Bulls’ is a generic term, which is meant to include bullocks, oxen, etc. This has been specifically clarified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in their response to a Right to Information application filed by activist Amruta Ubale.]
The organizer of the Rural Olympics, Grewal Sports Association Kila Raipur, therefore approached the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh, and sought that an order be passed, ALLOWING them to hold the races. Their Civil Writ Petition No. 254 of 2012 was listed on the morning of the 10th of February, 2012.
The Court, however, MERELY PASSED AN ORDER, requiring them to file a representation seeking permission before the Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana ; and requiring him to consider the same in accordance with law.
Needless to state, the Grewal Sports Association Kila Raipur then filed a strong representation before the Deputy Commissioner Ludhiana, in the 2nd half of the 10th of February, 2012.
AND, THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF LUDHIANA PASSED AN ORDER LATE IN THE EVENING ON 10TH FEBRUARY, 2012, DISALLOWING THE KILA RAIPUR BULLOCK CART RACES ! In passing the order that he did, he specifically based himself on the Animal Welfare Board of India’s letter of 8th February, 2012, which in turn had based itself on the Ministry of Environment & Forests’ notification dated 11th July, 2011. His order says as much.
This “season” therefore, there were no bullock cart races at the Kila Raipur Rural Olympics.
THE BULLS IN THE NORTH WON THE KILA RAIPUR BATTLE THIS SEASON.
Probably because there were no Tamil Nadu politicians waiting in the wings to play spoilsport at Kila Raipur in Ludhiana.
Reports have just come in that bullock cart races have been successfully stopped at the Wardha district of Maharashtra too, on the 28th of February, 2012, by activist Ashish Goswami. In this case too, a communication had been issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India to the district authorities ; and there were no Tamil Nadu politicians!