Chennai: Jallikattu is no longer confined to just three sporting centres around the city of Madurai-Alanganallur, Palamedu and Avaniyapuram. At Ponneri, less than 50 km north of Chennai, several youth gathered on a public ground on Tuesday morning to erect a vaadivaasal to run half-a-dozen decorated bulls with spirited ‘tamers’ sprinting along. Dozens of such impromptu Jallikattu contests are being held across Tamil Nadu over the last few days just to make a point to those in authority: ‘You cannot prevent us from conducting this sport of Tamil valour symbolising our hoary culture’.
And the crowd at Marina only swelled as time passed by as young men and women continued slogans demanding that jallikattu should be allowed to be held and that Peta be banned. “We will not attend classes in schools and colleges till our demands are met”, screamed Vilasini, a Chennai college student, as media persons gathered around a group of pro-jallikattu activists at Marina, seeking sound bytes. “Who is Peta to barge into our home and dictate to us how to conduct our lives? We demand that Peta be banned”.
Even as the jallikattu agitation was just about gathering steam before Pongal, Deccan Chronicle had reported last week that the growing protests resembled the anti-Hindi storm of the 1960s. The storm of youth protests for jallikattu is now sweeping across Tamil Nadu and its velocity is only growing by the day. The agitators, including several girls and women, are even staying put at the protest sites through the night. “This agitation has spread across the state and is growing stronger and stronger. This appears bigger than the anti-Hindi stir”, TN Jallikattu federation chief P. Rajasekaran told DC.
Coming down heavily on the police for using lathis against the protesters and arresting several of them at Alanganallur, Rajasekaran said, “The youth were only asking for their right to conduct jallikattu as it is a symbol of Tamil tradition, culture and valour. What’s wrong with that? And mind you, they have been agitating all along in peaceful manner and no public property has been damaged anywhere”.
That there has been no violence and the protesters have been conducting themselves in an impeccably disciplined manner is a critically important factor-the positive side of this huge expending of youth energy on an issue that could have been easily sorted out if all those at the helm had put their heads together at the right time, in the right place. And even at this late hour, the ‘bosses’ do not seem to get sensitive to the simplest of demands from the protesting youth at Marina-’We want the Chief Minister to come here and give us an assurance that jallikattu will be conducted at least before the end of this thai month. The month of thai ends February 12.
Such public involvement could take place elsewhere also as this storm gathers strength. Already, prominent public personalities, including film stars, writers and social activists, apart from political leaders such as the DMK working president M. K. Stalin, have made appearances before the protesters at different places to pledge support.
Rewind to 2014 when jallikattu was last held under strict supervision of animal activists, veterinarians, revenue and police officials, to ensure that the animals and the participating youth were not fed with alcohol, that the bulls were not tortured by applying chilli powder in their eyes and all precautions were taken to barricade the spectators from the sport arena. “The same precautions could be taken again. These bulls are part of our family. We guarantee we will conduct jallikattu as a real sport of valour and not like some Spanish bull fight that ends in the bull’s death”, said Rajasekaran.
Sources in the government say that the Centre is waiting for the Supreme Court order on jallikattu, which could come in a few days. “If the SC decides against jallikattu, the Centre could immediately promulgate an ordinance to overcome that. This could be followed by enacting a suitable law that the Parliament will pass without difficulty”, said a top source....