Culture

Centre Clears Tamil Nadu Ordinance on Jallikattu

The state government will amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

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Competitors try to tame a bull during “Jallikattu” organised as a part of Pongal celebrations at Alanganallore village in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Moving swiftly, the Centre tonight cleared an ordinance on jallikattu, paving the way for the Tamil Nadu government to promulgate it in an effort to end the protests that have paralysed the state for the past four days.

Following up on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance to Tamil Nadu chief minister O. Panneerselvam, the ministries of home, law and environment vetted the state’s draft ordinance and cleared the amendment that will remove bulls from the list of “performing animals”.

This will ensure that provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act will not apply to the bull.

The ordinance has been forwarded to the state government, a home ministry spokesman said. It has been sent without the need of referring it to the President of India.

The Tamil Nadu cabinet is expected to meet Saturday morning to clear the ordinance and recommend it to the governor, Vidyasagar Rao for promulgation.

Rao, who is also governor of Maharashtra, is reaching Chennai Saturday morning.

Jallikattu, a bull-taming sport, is an age-old annual event during Pongal and is very popular in Tamil Nadu. .

The Centre’s move came as Tamil Nadu has been brought to a standstill by a shutdown and protests by students, youths and other sections demanding immediate staging of the traditional sport in Alanganallur, epicentre of jallikattu, and other places.

The protesters have said they would not withdraw the agitation until the event is held.

Earlier, Panneerselvam, who stayed back in the national capital after his meeting with Modi yesterday, announced Friday morning that the state government would issue an ordinance in a day or two to allow jallikattu.

He said legal steps would be taken to remove “all obstacles” in the way of holding the sport.

Home minister Rajnath Singh, on whom a large delegation of AIADMK MPs called, as also environment minister Anil Dave and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad gave assurances of early steps by the Centre to resolve the issue soon.

Parallely, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court that the Centre was in talks with Tamil Nadu to find a way out in the matter, after which the court agreed not to pass its judgment for a week on the jallikattu issue.

With the Centre drawing flak, the BJP sought to project that its government was actively engaged in resolving the crisis.

The law minister said he has held discussions with BJP president Amit Shah on the issue, while Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan and Tamil Nadu BJP chief Tamilisai Soundarajan flanked Dave when he met the media.

Though political parties have been kept away from the ‘youth uprising’, the main opposition party, DMK, staged state-wide rail roko agitation, with its working president M.K. Stalin leading the protests by squatting on the tracks in Mambalam.

Stalin and Kanimozhi, besides many DMK workers, were arrested.

Stalin has also announced that he will observe a day long fast on Saturday.

The call for general strike by various trade unions including those affiliated to DMK and the Left parties, besides a section of traders bodies, led to a shutdown, with shops and business establishments downing shutters and schools and colleges remaining closed across the state.

The Tamil film industry expressed solidarity with Jallikattu supporters, with top actors and actresses joining a silent protest. Film shootings were suspended for the day.

Superstar Rajinikanth, actors Ajit Kumar, Surya, Siva Karthikeyan besides actress Trisha, who had faced flak from the pro-Jallikattu groups for her perceived opposition to the sport by reportedly being associated with PETA, joined the silent protest.

Autos and call taxis kept off the roads even as few government buses plied on the roads.

Banking operations took a hit with workers taking part in protests. Employees of various IT companies held placards and banners with slogans against the NGO People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Many inter and intra-state trains were fully and partially cancelled while some others were diverted. The suburban EMU services ran late.

In Chennai, all roads led to Marina beach with men and women, clad in black, besides children joining the protest that has transcended political and other differences.

Panneerselvam’s assurance

Earlier on Friday, after discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and consultations with legal experts, Tamil Nadu chief minister O. Panneerselvam announced this morning that the state government will amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to allow for the conduct of Jallikattu in the state with the Centre’s backing and urged protestors across the state to withdraw their agitation.

Panneerselvam, who stayed back in Delhi yesterday to discuss the matter with legal experts and government officials, said the draft ordinance has been prepared and sent to the union home ministry today and after Centre’s approval, it will be sent for presidential assent.

“I stayed back in Delhi yesterday and discussed with legal experts and senior government officials the matter of making amendments to Centre’s Animal Cruelty Prevention Act (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960) at the state level. On the basis of that it was decided to bring an amendment to the act at the state level,” he told reporters here.

 

Panneerselvam sounded confident of seeing the matter through as he recalled the prime minster’s assurance of support to any legal steps by his government.

“As said by the prime minster, we will get full central cooperation on this matter. So, with the ban about to be removed and jallikattu likely in a day or two, I request the public, students and other organisations who have been protesting to withdraw their agitation,” he said, flanked by, among others, state animal husbandry minister P. Balakrishna Reddy.

Panneerselvam recalled the sustained efforts by his predecessor J. Jayalalithaa as well as by himself with regard to the conduct of jallikattu.

He said though the Centre had issued a notification last year for its conduct, various organisations had moved the Supreme Court, which issued an interim stay even as it was yet to pronounce the verdict. (PTI)