PETA India on Friday slammed the government’s decision to allow the bull-taming sport, popularly known as jallikattu, in Tamil Nadu. The government on Thursday issued a notification permitting bulls to participate in the traditional sport, while listing four conditions.
“Happy to learn that the Environment Ministry issued a notification that has paved the way for conducting the traditional sport of Jallikattu,” Jayalalithaa said in her letter to the Prime Minister.
In its May 2014 order, the Supreme Court had directed the MoEF not to allow bull races or fights, and also ordered it not to modify its 2011 notification without prior notification from the Animal Welfare Board of India – an advisory body under the same ministry. Last month, the AWBI said its stand on Jallikattu remained the same – it’s illegal.
Interestingly, the AWBI has not given the government any such clearance. Speaking to The Indian Express, vice chairman of the AWBI Dr. S Chinni Krishna said the notification issued by the government was violative of the Supreme Court order.
“We have not given the government any such clearance. Two weeks ago the board in its meeting reiterated that the decision to hold Jallikattu was illegal,” Chinni Krishna said.
However, PETA India, that has been campaigning against the sport, vowed to continue fighting the matter in the apex court, terming the government’s move as a ‘black mark on the nation’.
“Lifting the protection against cruelty that was afforded to bulls is a black mark on our nation, which has always been looked up to by people around the world for our cultural reverence for animals,” PETA India CEO Poorva Joshipura said, adding that “India will now be considered archaic and backward as sensibilities around the world are changing in favour of animal protection, with towns in Ecuador, Venezuela, France, Portugal and Colombia declaring themselves to be against bullfighting, and Catalonia, a region in Spain, banning it.”
According to Joshipura, the government’s ‘U-turn’ smacks of hypocrisy, – forgetting its vow to protect cattle in the country.
“Our phones have been ringing off the hook this morning with calls from BJP supporters and others who are horrified that the same authorities who claim to care about cattle are now allowing the cruelty to cattle that was already banned by the highest court of India. This U-turn is being seen by many of the BJP’s own supporters as reckless, heartless, and weak. We vow to take our fight to protect bulls from cruelty back to the Supreme Court,” she said.
Here’s what the government’s 7 January, 2016 notification said:
In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 22 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (59 of 1960), and in supersession of the notification of the Government of India in the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India number G.S.R. 528(E), dated the 11th July, 2011, except as respects things done or omitted to be done before such supersession, the Central Government, hereby specifies that the following animals shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animal, with effect from the date of publication of this notification, namely:
Provided that bulls may be continue to be exhibited or trained as a performing animal, at events such as Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat in the manner by the customs of any community or practiced traditionally under the customs or as a
part of culture, in any part of the country subject to the following conditions, namely:—
(i) such event shall take place in any Districtwhere it is being traditionally held annually, atsuch place explicitly permitted by the District Collector or the District Magistrate;
(ii) bullock cart race shall be organised on a proper track, which shall not exceed two kilometres. In case of Jallikattu,the moment the bull leaves the enclosure, it shall be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metre;
(iii) ensure that the bulls are put to proper testing by the authorities of the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department to ensure that they are in good physical condition to participate in the event and performance enhancement drugs are not administered to the bulls in any form; and
(iv) ensure that the rights conferred upon the animals under section 3 and clause (a) and clause (m) of sub-section (1) of section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (59 of 1960) and five freedoms declared by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in its order dated 7th May, 2014 in Civil Appeal No. 5387 of 2014 are fully protected during such events:
Provided further that any event of Jallikattu or bullock cart races so organised shall be held with the prior approval of the District Authorities concerned:
Provided also further that the Jallikattu or bullock cart races so organised shall be duly monitored by the District Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and State Animal Welfare Board or the District Authorities as the case may be, ensuring that no unnecessary pain or suffering is inflicted or caused, in any manner, whatsoever, during the course of such events, or in preparation thereof.
Below is the Supreme Court’s 2014 order