SC stay on Jallikattu sparks protests; Centre assures action

Chennai/Madurai: Hours after SC stayed the Centre's notification lifting ban on Jallikattu, its proponents staged protests in parts of southern Tamil Nadu where the sport is hugely popular, even as Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan assured that the Centre would take 'appropriate action' on the issue.

Political parties like DMK, MDMK and PMK mounted pressure on the state and Union governments to get the nod to conduct the bull taming sport in the state.

"The court stay is deeply disappointing. The Central government will take appropriate action on this issue after studying the court ruling," Minister of State for Shipping, Pon Radhakrishnan said.

People want tradition and cultural practises to be nurtured, he said, adding he would leave for Delhi tomorrow tentatively. "The issue will be discussed at appropriate official channels," he said.

Reacting strongly to the development, organisers of Jallikattu resorted to road blockades, held demonstrations and shut shops and other establishments in parts of Madurai district, affecting normalcy.

Police said the situation in some areas was tense, but under control. Protests were held in various areas, including Alanganallur, Palamedu and Avaniapuram in the district, where the sport was held annually till it was banned by the Apex Court in 2014.

Protesters raised slogans demanding permission to conduct the sport.

Police said reinforcements were rushed wherever needed. Jallikattu organisers were upset as the Apex Court order had come at a time when they had made elaborate arrangements to hold the event in various towns and villages.

Residents in some areas threatened to boycott the coming assembly elections if they were not allowed to hold the sport which, they said, was part and parcel of temple festivals.

DMK leader M K Stalin demanded that the Central government should immediately pursue the issue legally to facilitate the sport in Tamil Nadu.
MDMK general secretary and leader of People's Welfare Front Vaiko said the Central and State governments should take appropriate action to facilitate conducting of Jallikattu.

PMK Lok Sabha MP Anbumani Ramadoss asked the Centre to immediately move the Court to get the interim stay removed. "Chief Minister Jayalalithaa should convene an all-party meeting and lead a delegation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to exert pressure and find a permanent solution to the issue."

The Apex Court had earlier in the day stayed the Centre's January 7, 2016 notification issued by Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), lifting the ban on Jallikattu.

It had also issued notice to MoEF and Tamil Nadu on petitions by various bodies, including Animal Welfare Board of India, seeking to strike down the notification and sought their replies within four weeks.

The notification lifting the ban was challenged in the Apex Court yesterday by AWBI, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals India and a Bangalore-based NGO.

The four-year-old ban on holding the event was lifted on January 8 by the Modi government in poll-bound Tamil Nadu with certain restrictions.

The decision to allow Jallikattu along with bullock cart races in other parts of the country had come through a government notification despite strong objections by animal rights groups.

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