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Friday, April 12, 2024

Jallikattu and The Art of Hijacking a Protest

Today, the whole nation has been surprised by the sudden, unplanned and well executed protest against the ban on Jallikattu by the Supreme Court of Bharat, leaving many national media houses, which were earlier directly/indirectly justifying the ban, stunned. This has made them concentrate more on the old Dravidian separatism narrative which has taken a rebirth among a section of youngsters protesting for revoking the ban, thus trying to degrade the image of the protest and to justify the rude statements made by the liberals against the Tamils.

So what really has given rise to this protest? Why are these protesters asking for a separate country over the issue of ban imposed on their traditional sport? Let us have a detailed analysis over this issue.

Jallikattu – Tradition and Science

When the ban was imposed by the Supreme Court in 2014 (first imposed by Justice Smt. R. Bhanumathi of the Madurai bench of Madras High Court  in 2006) it was supported by a lot of Tamils living in the urban areas. Slowly the sharing of the importance of Jallikattu by describing the the scientific advantages and medicinal values of indigenous cows of Bharat made people aware of the cheap tricks used by the foreign corporates; this made Tamils understand the importance of Jallikattu.

The process of breeding Jersey cows (foreign) with indigenous cows in Bharat began under the Nehru government in 1951. As a result, the milk production which was 17 million litres in 1951 increased upto 122 million litres in 1952 (number of cows also increased by a stunning 20 million). As Jersey cows gave large amount of milk compared to the indigenous cows on per day basis, this move was largely welcomed. But many seemed to ignore the fact that indigenous cows can produce milk for 12 years in their lifetime on an average, whereas the Jersey cows can produce it only 4 to 6 years on an average, which clearly indicates that indigenous cows were also profitable contradicting the popular claim.

But on being provided with the same amount of fodder, which was earlier not practiced, the indigenous cows can also produce milk almost equal to the amount of the milk produced by the Jersey cows on a day-to-day basis. Also the consumption of A2 variety of milk, which is obtained from indigenous breeds, makes one resistant to diabetes, besides having other health benefits. It was only after the introduction of cross breeding process that the diabetes epidemic shot up in Bharat. This process of cross breeding was largely resisted by the farmers in Tamil Nadu, unlike the many other parts of the country, because of one reason which is Jallikattu.

Many farmers raised their bulls particularly for Jallikattu and their love for this sport prevented them from accepting this cross breeding technique because Jallikattu can be only played by holding the hump of the bulls which is absent in Jersey cows and also those obtained as a result of cross breeding.

Recently in an article written in Firstpost, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi lists various sports involving animals played during Sankaranthi including Jallikattu, and bluntly says that many of these started only a few decades ago. As her article is mainly targeted against Jallikattu, it is fair to assume that she has placed Jallikattu in that category of sports which she claims ‘started recently’. Contradicting her claim, Boothathaazhwar who is considered as one of the 12 Azhwars of Vaishnavism, has mentioned about Jallikattu in Irandaam Thiruvandaadi, wherein she says, “Eru Ezhum vendru adarttha endai” recounting Krishna’s act of taming 7 bulls in order to marry Nagnajiti who is known as Nappinnai in Tamil.

Peyaazhwar in his Moondram Thiruvandaadi also mentions this by saying, “Pinnaikkaai mutral muri etrin mun nindru moimbu ozhitthaai”. Here he praises Krishna’s bravery as he tamed the bull by grabbing its hump from the front instead of approaching it from sideway to get hold of it more easily. This shows that Jallikattu was practiced by the Tamils during the period of these two Azhawars who lived atleast 1000 years ago, standing testimony to the popular claim that Jallikattu is an integral part of Hindu Dharma and Tamil culture.

In that article, Maneka Gandhi further states Jallikattu involves a bunch of boys jumping on the bull, trying to tear its horns. She also states that bulls die during Jallikattu. But in reality, the Jallikattu event which happens mostly in temples and involves the participation of temple bull first as a mark of respect to the gods will be stopped even if one of the participating bulls is injured in the event. Also if alcohol is really the cause of unfortunate incidents in the sport, as a women and child development minister, why is she not proposing an overall ban on sale and consumption of alcohol throughout the country?

The animal activist NGOs like PETA, AWBI etc., have constantly targeted each and every traditional Hindu festival involving animals throughout the country, citing animal cruelty. But none of them till date have filed a petition in the court to stop the slitting of the throats of animals in the name of Halal slaughter or the bursting of crackers during Christmas, New Year etc., leading one to believe that their cause is backed by evangelicals along with certain corporates.

Congress-DMK, FCRA NGO & Evangelist role in banning Jallikattu

After the Madurai bench of Madras High Court first banned Jallikattu in 2006, in 2009, Govt of TN passed the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act (TNRJA) which allowed Jallikattu for 5 months in a year subject to certain conditions. In 2010, Supreme Court permitted Jallikattu under the provisions of the TNRJA as well.

But in 2011, UPA Environment minister Jairam Ramesh banned the use of bulls as performing animals, thus effectively banning Jallikattu and other animal races across the country. In May 2014, SC struck down TNRJA and banned Jallikattu – largely basing their decision on the 2011 notification by Jairam Ramesh. Jairam Ramesh welcomed the SC decision and expressed hope that it will put an end to a “barbaric practice”.

Congress leader and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi is representing the NGO lobby to keep Jallikattu banned. In 2015, ex-PM Manmohan Singh wrote a letter to Humane Society International (HSI – one of the several FCRA NGOs involved in the campaign to ban Jallikattu) extending his support for the ‘worthy objective of discouraging bullfights.’

The Congress manifesto of Tamil Nadu election 2016 even said that it will continue to support the ban on Jallikattu for it did not wish animals to be subjected to cruelty in any manner.  The same Congress – DMK alliance was supported by the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council, who are now playing the Tamil card to cover their involvement after the eruption of protests against the ban throughout the state.

This makes one wonder whether the decision of Madurai bench of Madras High Court in 2006 also had the involvement of the evangelists – interestingly, that judgement was passed by unilaterally expanding the scope of a case where the petitioner was seeking permission for rekla (bullock cart) race. A quick google search on the antecedents of Justice R Banumathi who gave the 2006 judgement banning the sport, tells us the following –

After her Madras High Court stint, Justice Bhanumathi went on to become the Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court, and is now a Supreme Court judge. In 2009, Justice Bhanumathi also endorsed Government control over Hindu temples when she rejected a plea against appointment of a Government executive officer for the famous fifth-century Natarajar Temple at Chidambaram.

When the ban on bulls as performing animals was amended by a notification passed by the BJP’s Environment Minister Prakash Javdekar in January 2016, in order to allow Jallikattu that year, the Supreme Court passed a stay order on the notification, further making it difficult for Tamils to play their beloved sport. Since then, the SC has reserved its verdict on the batch of petitions challenging Centre’s notification allowing the sport.

Present Situation

This has prevented Jallikattu from being conducted in 2017 for the third consecutive year making Tamils show their protests by defying the ban at many places. Despite of the lathi charge at many places, the sport was conducted at many places at temporary vaadivaasal erected for the purpose of training the bulls instead of the temples where the sport is conducted in a traditional manner after the worship of bulls by the temple pujari.

During one such act of defying the ban, a temple bull was killed by the police accidentally when they were dispersing the crowd by lathi charge, further enraging the crowds as the temple bull is not supposed to be touched or beaten even if it grazes on an individual’s farm. These incidents together resulted in a protest in Alanganallur where the police closed the traditional Vaadivaasal with the help of barricades and prevented the conduction of the sport by defying the ban.

When the students protesting in Alanganallur were arrested by the police, various districts in Tamil Nadu saw students coming together in protest asking for the release of the arrested students and an ordinance to be passed by the central government for the conduction of the sport. The inability of the central government to inform people about their pro-Jallikattu stance and the ignorance of the national media over this ban resulted in some students sitting in protest asking for Tamil Nadu to be made as a separate country. This was opposed by the majority of the protestors who made people aware of the similar problems faced by other states.

When the DMK leader M.K. Stalin came to show his support for the protest conducted by the students of Tamil Nadu in the support of Jallikattu, he was denied the permission to sit and protest along with the students citing the alliance of DMK with the congress government in 2010, which was largely responsible for the banning of Jallikattu. Two days later, when the left liberal national media like NDTV, India Today started covering the issue, the section of people who were asking for a separate country due to the perceived inaction of the center and state governments were largely covered, ignoring the other students who were the majority among the students.

Also the statements made by Subramanian Swamy addressing the Tamils conducting Jallikattu defying the ban as “Porukkis” and asking for president’s rule in Tamil Nadu didn’t help the cause. This was opposed by a large number of people questioning the absence of such statements by Swamy when Dahi handi was conducted in Maharashtra breaking the rules formed by the Supreme Court in its judgement, and also when Karnataka refused to share the water of Kaveri with Tamil Nadu disobeying the orders of the Supreme Court.

The left liberal national media and foreign corporates are trying hard to cover the evangelist and Congress hand in the ban of Jallikattu, and taking advantage of the weak communication by Central Government to hijack the Jallikattu protests and portray them as anti-Bharat and anti-Centre. Jallikattu ban is actually a serious attack on Hindu culture, whereas the evangelical organizations which have played a major role in imposing the ban are now supporting the sport, confusing people by playing the Tamil card and further trying to increase their soul vulture activites.

(Featured Image Credit: Indian Express)


1930 hrs, 20 Jan 2017 –

There are reports that even Islamists have now infiltrated the Jallikattu protests, as shown by this image of a two-wheeler with a person on it wearing the Prime Minister’s mask garlanded with footwear. Before the two-wheeler are mug shots of Palani Baba, a Jihadist of Tamil Nadu, and Osama bin Laden.

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  1. Congrats for a hardhitting article exposes the divisive agendas behind the stir. BTW, one of the Sangam anthologies, Kalithogai, has many references to taming of bulls. This work predates the Alwar verses referred to by centuries.

  2. This was Modi admin’s to lose and they along with ministers like Menaka are getting there.

    Very disappointing that Modi admin is ignoring its core base. It has been completely clueless about important issues like Jallikattu and what it means to Tamils. This was easy way to win the hearts of Tamil Hindus and others and they dropped the ball.


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