THE STAGE is set for the four-day ‘Rural Olympics’, which will kick off in Kila Raipur village, Ludhiana, Thursday.
Bullock cart races used to be the main attraction of the event before the Supreme Court ban. However, the Kila Raipur sports committee has planned to focus more on races of horses and dogs in a bid to attract crowds.
Bullock cart owners have planned to stage protests at the venue site during the inaugural and closing ceremony events in which SAD ministers will be chief guests.
The event is being organised at a cost of Rs 32 lakh. In accordance with the guidelines of the Supreme Court, deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat has deputed sub-divisional magistrate, deputy director (animal husbandry) and even the executive magistrate to be present at the venue.
Bhagat said, “I have ordered the police as well to provide necessary force at the spot if needed. Court orders are supreme and we will abide by them.”
He added, “I got a call from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and I have asked them to depute a member for the event. In of case any violation, he/she can inform our staff immediately.”
However, AWBI member Dr Sandeep Jain asserted that apart from bullock cart races, dog races are also banned and in the national livestock mela held at Muktsar, the animal husbandry department had not organised dog races.
Nikku Grewal, general secretary of Kila Raipur sports committee, however, said, “We can organise dog races and we have necessary documents with us with regard to our case settled in the High Court. We will organise dog races under those guidelines only for which we even sought permission from the animal husbandry department. Their teams will be at the venue on all four days.”
He added, “Bullock cart owners have the right to protest and it is up to to them to do what they can to get their demands heard. In the absence of bullock cart races, we have added more items and even the number of participants in horse races has increased this year.”
This year, cultural events have been given more attention. Punjabi singers Geeta Jaildar, Balkar Sidhu and Gurdas Mann will perform at the festival.
A 100-tola gold cup and 50-tola silver cup are the running trophies for the hockey tournament in this event. The cups are kept in bank lockers by organisers and are taken out only at the time of prize distribution.