The Beastly Act & The Humane Verdict
Subjecting animals to cruelty in any manner and indulging in pointless machismo needs to be condemned in the strongest language. Such brutal practices that degrade animals must be discontinued forthwith and those indulging in the same must not only be fined but also be jailed. There has to be zero tolerance to atrocity of any kind against animals.
Against this backdrop, it is worth mentioning that citing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the Supreme Court explicitly banned the Jallikattu race on May 7, 2014. Earlier also, the Supreme Court had proscribed this race in 2008 but had revoked it within days. But this time, it is firm. In 2010, the court had permitted Jallikattu events on the express condition of being conducted under the strict purview of law.
It is noteworthy that after the Central government had removed bulls from the list of performing animals in April 2014, all the barriers in banning the sport were removed. It was only after this that the Supreme Court went ahead and put an end to the controversial sport. Indulging in any such cruel act that causes immense pain and harm to animal and then terming it a race can never be justified under any circumstance.
The word jallikattu is believed to be derived from two words: jalli, or salli, meaning a coin, and kattu, which means to tie. It was a custom earlier to tie small packets of coin on the bull’s horns and the job of the contestant was to wrest it from the bull’s horns. In very early days, the winners would earn the laurels of the entire place where the event was conducted and were often selected as bridegrooms by the women who were present at the ceremony. But now, its value has gone down substantially and the winner has to content with a low-value prize like a chair, a bag, a cycle or a shirt.
It is to be noted that this cruel practice, which is more than 4000 years old, is still regarded by the people, where it is practiced, as harmless. Villagers in Tamil Nadu say that it is just a harmless sport, in which an unarmed sportsman tries to hold on to the raging bull for 10 seconds or till the animal crosses the finishing line about 50 feets away. If the sportsman does not get thrown off by the bull, he is declared a winner but if he fails to hold on to the bull horns, then the bovine becomes the winner.
Animal activists allege that the animals are subjected to many cruel practices like having their ears cut and being beaten and poked with knives and sticks. This is horrible and completely unacceptable. It deserves a ban not only because it is cruel to bulls but also because it dehumanises man and is dangerous for his personal safety also. Training bulls to target and attack all strangers as enemies is pathetic and it is a real reflection of what we humans really are.
However, what is the most unfortunate is the fact that even big political parties like DMK has chosen to play to the gallery and its chief Karunanidhi has gone to the extent of asking the state government to get the court to allow continuation of the sport, given its sentimental attraction for the state’s people. People’s sentiments cannot justify cruelty against animals. People’s sentiments cannot justify beating animals mercilessly or poking their ears with knives and sticks or having their tails twisted or pouring chilli powder and chemicals into their eyes and ears.
By Sanjeev Sirohi