New Delhi: The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has pulled up the Tamil Nadu government over alleged death of bulls during the state’s controversial Jallikattu festival this year on the basis of an inspection report by the animal rights organisation, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), ThePrint has learnt.
In a letter, dated 26 June, AWBI Secretary Dr S.K. Dutta has said: “The PETA has forwarded an inspection report wherein it has been informed that six animals have died (during the festival). Some of the pictures showed that the animals were teased with nails and cruelty happen(ed).”
The letter further stated the AWBI had constituted a separate committee in coordination with the Tamil Nadu government, which found that “the organisers were not taking adequate measures to prevent harm to animal and human life”.
In contrast to the PETA report, which has recorded six bull deaths, the report by the committee constituted by the AWBI had found that one bull and 13 people had died due to the “mismanaged event,” which was held during the Pongal festival in January this year.
“In view of the above, it is hereby requested to furnish your comments/views of Jallikattu inspection report received from PETA at the earliest to the Board immediately to take further necessary action,” said the letter by the Board, which is a statutory body that advises the government on animal welfare. “Please treat this as most urgent,” it added.
Controversies over Jallikattu
Jallikattu, a controversial bull-taming sport that involves aggressive confrontation between cattle and humans, was banned by the Supreme Court in 2014 after a decade-long battle by animal welfare organisations like the Federation of India Animal Protection Agencies (FIAPO) and PETA.
However, with assembly elections due in the state, the central government sought to reverse the ban by effecting certain conditions in 2016, following which the original order was upheld by the Supreme Court, triggering massive outrage and protests in Tamil Nadu.
In January 2017, when the Supreme Court rejected a plea, seeking an urgent hearing on a clutch of petitions, seeking permission for Jallikattu that year, the protests became louder.
The protests Tamil Nadu witnessed were compared to the violent demonstrations of the 1960s, when the central government attempted to make Hindi the official language of India.
The ruling AIADMK and opposition parties backed pro-Jallikattu groups.
After more than a week of protests, the Tamil Nadu government passed an amendment to the central government’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, to allow Jallikattu. The amendment was subsequently approved by the President of India, effectively overturning the Supreme Court ban and allowing the sport to be played without any legal hurdle.