ENCOURAGED BY successful protests for resumption of traditional post-harvest sport Jallikattu in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, various groups in coastal Karnataka district of Dakshina Kannada are raising the demand for restoration of traditional buffalo-racing sport Kambala. Kambala was barred by Karnataka High Court on November 22 last year on a plea by animal rights group PETA.
The BJP, which has a strong presence in coastal Karnataka, is supporting the demand, and several top party leaders here have sought the state government’s intervention in the matter. Ahead of a protest planned for January 28, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday said that the Congress government in the state supports conducting the races despite court order.
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“We are in favour of Kambala the same way as the Tamil Nadu government has been in favour of Jallikatu,” Siddaramaiah said today when asked about the proposed protest on January 28.
The races have been typically conducted between November and March in the paddy fields of Dakshina Kannada. According to various organisations that have come under a joint Kambala Committee, the traditional race has been run for more than 700 years and their preparations involved rearing special high-breed buffaloes.
Over the years, Kambala has seen increase in gambling and betting on the races. One of the most famous Kambala events is organised in Puttur, 50 km southwest of Mangaluru, by gangster-turned-activist Muthappa Rai. “We have been encouraged by the success of Jallikattu protests in Tamil Nadu (and) are planning a massive protest in Mangaluru with 50,000 people,” an office-bearer of Kambala Committee in Mangaluru said. He added that Kambala races would be conducted that day.
In its interim order, the division bench of Chief Justice S K Mukherjee and Justice R B Budihal observed that “tradition cannot overtake law”, and that animal rights are protected under provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
“All animals are not anatomically designed to be performing animals…(and) unavoidable activities causing pain and suffering to animals must be avoided,” the court noted.
Pro-Kambala groups filed interim applications for removal of the stay. The case is expected to come up for hearing in two weeks. On Sunday state BJP president B S Yeddyurappa tweeted, “I call upon @CMofKarnataka to take steps to start #Kambala. BJP supports Kambala”. “Hope Karnataka High Court will lift unwarranted stay on Kambala immediately. #KambalaBeku as it is a part of Our Culture followed from ages,” BJP MLA and party spokesperson C T Ravi tweeted.
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