Jallikattu Wave At Chennai’s Marina Beach As Thousands More Join Protest: 10 Points

CHENNAI:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today indicated at a meeting with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam that the centre will not issue an ordinance or executive order to remove a Supreme Court ban on Jallikattu, the bull taming sport. In Chennai, thousands of protesters, camped at the famous Marina Beach for over 36 hours, say they will not leave till the ban on Jallikattu is lifted. The protesters have set a 5 pm deadline for the Tamil Nadu government to make an announcement. The spontaneous uprising, which has resonated across the world, has so far been been completely peaceful, but authorities are worried as more and more people arrive at the beach front.

Here are the 10 latest developments in this big story:

PM Modi told Mr Panneerselvam that while the centre appreciates the cultural significance of Jallikattu, it cannot intervene as the matter is being heard by the Supreme Court. “The centre would be supportive of steps taken by the State Government,” the Prime Minister said.

The protesters say they see that as a cue for the Panneerselvam government to now take steps to bring back Jallikattu. “We will take a good decision soon,” said the Chief Minister after meeting PM Modi, who, he said, respects Tamil sentiments.”

The Supreme Court had banned Jallikattu in 2014 on a petition by animal rights activists who say Jallikattu is cruel to bulls. The court later rejected a Tamil Nadu petition seeking a review of its decision and last year also stayed the centre’s notification allowing Jallikattu. It is now hearing that case and will give verdict soon.

Lakhs began to protest across Tamil Nadu after Jallikattu was not held for a third year running on Pongal, celebrated last Saturday. The Chennai protest began on Tuesday after the arrest of many Jallikattu protesters in Madurai district’s Alanganallur town. Over 2,000 Tamilians also protested in the national capital against the Jallikattu ban.

What began as a gathering of about 50 protesters at Chennai’s famous beach front had swelled to 15,000, the police estimate, by late Wednesday evening, with many people joining the protest in response to appeals on social media. The protesters, mostly young students and professionals, say their fight is for their culture and Tamil pride and reject the allegation that Jallikattu is cruel to the bulls.

The Madras High Court Advocates Association on Thursday announced boycott of the courts tomorrow in support of state-wide protests against Jallikattu ban.

There are no leaders at the Chennai protest and while politicians have been kept out – the DMK’s MK Stalin and others were asked to leave – the peaceful agitation has drawn the support of top film stars, singers and sportsmen from the state. “#jallikattu is a cultural symbol . Respect it. Im all for animal rights but here that is not the point.tradition & livelihood are,” tweeted Chess Grand Master Viswanathan Anand.

Thousands of protesters slept in the open on the beach last night. In the morning they were seen clearing the area, which is a litter-free zone. Many who have joined the protest later have brought food and water with them for the others.

The protesters have also demanded that animal rights organisation PETA, which has lobbied against Jallikatu, be banished from the state. They say the law on cruelty to animals must be amended to include Jallikattu bulls on a list of trained animals used in the military or for educational and scientific purposes.

Animal rights activists allege that the organisers of Jallikattu drug the bulls to make them unsteady and throw chilli powder in their faces to agitate them as they are released from a holding pen. PETA has released footage that it says shows bull farmers doping the animals ahead of the event.