The Jallikattu may be 5,000 years old, but whether the controversial bull fighting sport can continue will be decided legally, the Supreme Court (of India) told Tamil Nadu (state government) in sharp remarks today (July 26).
Rubbishing the state’s plea that Jallikattu should be allowed because it is a centuries old tradition, the court said, “In 1899, tens of thousands of girls below 12 years of age were married. Should we allow it today because it was a tradition at that time?”
The court said that it was a “constitutional and statutory issue” and that it would examine whether such a sport was permissible in law or not.
The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), through various reports, affidavits and photographs, has argued that Jallikattu bulls are physically and mentally tortured for the pleasure and enjoyment of human beings. They have also produced visual evidence for torture and cruelty to bullocks in Maharashtra’s bullock-cart races. According to AWBI, Jallikattu or bullock-cart races conducted in this way have no historical, cultural or religious significance in Tamil Nadu or Maharashtra, and that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, must supersede any such practice.
Jallikattu exploits bulls’ natural nervousness as prey animals by deliberately placing them in a terrifying situation in which they are forced to run away from those they perceive as predators. As PETA India has documented in Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)–authorised inspections, the bulls become so frightened by the mob of men who participate that they slip, fall, run into barriers and traffic – and even jump off cliffs in their desperate attempts to escape – frequently leading to broken bones or death.
As can be seen in the documentation, jallikattu participants purposely disorient the bulls by forcing them to consume alcohol; twist and bite their tails; stab and jab them with sickles, spears, knives and sticks; cause them intense pain by yanking their nose ropes; and punch them, jump on them and drag them to the ground.
PETA India has also documented that during races, bulls run because people hurt them. They’re hit with everything from bare hands to nail-studded sticks, and their tailbones are broken at each joint. This is as painful to the bulls as it would be to us if someone were to break our fingers joint by joint.
In bullfights, the round ends when one of the frightened and injured bulls manages to flee – or is killed.
There is tremendous political pressure to exempt Jallikattu from the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals act 1960. Both the central and state Governments are using all their might.
Though the final verdict has not come out yet it’s good to see the Supreme Court has its priorities right. How ever old or “traditional” is a custom, it should be judged using current ethical standards. There in no room for such cruel “sport” in a civilised world.