WHILE IN Tamil Nadu, Jallikattu supporters are out on the streets to protest, in Pune, the supporters of bullock cart races will gather together on Saturday at Chakan to protest against the animal rights organisation, PETA.
Speaking on how one needs to be culturally sensitive while dealing with such an issue, Ramkrishna Takalkar of Takalkarwadi, who is leading the protest at Chakan. says: “We love our animals. We can’t think of treating them cruelly. We take great care of them. But PETA, which is an American organisation, is charging us with ill informed allegations. They don’t know our culture. They have no concern for our feelings and still how can the government and the court listen to them and not us?” Takalkar, who owns bulls that participate in races, says this decision could directly affect the lives of farmers.
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Small farmers from dry regions of Maan in Satara and Jat, Khanapur in Sangli districts rear Khilar breed of bulls. When this breed of bulls turns one, they are sold to the owners of racing carts. The price can be anything between Rs 20,000 and Rs one lakh, depending on the quality of the animal. Many families in this area have this as their side business to support their income in an otherwise arid region. The owners in Pune district also take good care of these animals and train them to take part in the race.
Interestingly, in these races in Pune district, no person is allowed to sit on the cart. The bulls are given a free run. “This way it rules out any possibility that we beat up the bulls and force them to run,” says Takalkar. “We have stopped using the whips and canes to make the bulls run, says Dhanaji Shinde of Karad who will also be holding protests against PETA in the coming week at Satara and Kolhapur.
The races are on during village fairs. The prize amount starts from Rs 50,000 to lakhs of rupees. The entry of political leaders in organising the races have made it more competitive because of high prize money.