By Dr. Nanditha Krishna
May 7th, 2014 will go down in the history of India for the landmark verdict given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India to ban the use of bulls for entertainment. This includes jallikattu, rekla (bullock cart) races and horse-and-bull races.
I am extremely delighted and would like to take this opportunity to congratulate each and every one who has worked for years to achieve this verdict.
I must particularly mention and thank Mr Jairam Ramesh who, as Minister for Environment and Forests, banned the use of bulls as performing animals in 2011. Subsequently, the Tamilnadu government permitted jallikattu through the Tamilnadu Jallikattu Regulation Act of 2009, while the Ministry of Environment and Forests withdrew its own Gazette notification through an affidavit to the Supreme Court this year. The Animal Welfare Board of India, to its credit, refused to go along and fought the Tamil Nadu government, the Jallikattu Federation and the Ministry of Environment and Forest’s stand in the Hon’ble Supreme Court. By its historic verdict, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has vindicated Mr. Jairam Ramesh’s position and upheld the ban.
Jallikattu is a cruel practice in which crowds of young men pursue and torment bulls, often leading to injury to the bulls and to themselves in the process. There is nothing intellectual or cultural about fighting bulls. Jallikattu owes its origin to man’s domestication of cattle, which gave him the draught power of the bull and milk from the cow – and power. But culture is not static. Just as we have evolved and given up sati, human sacrifice and child marriage, we must give up bull baiting and racing bulls too.
[The following is a description of abuse inflicted on the bulls, which may be disturbing…Editor]
During jallikattu, bulls are deliberately terrorized and made to suffer for entertainment. They are taunted by crowds, their tails twisted and broken, hit, wrestled to the ground and beaten and prodded with nail studded sticks, not to mention the chilli powder that is thrown into their eyes to craze them or the alcohol poured down their throats. No amount of regulation could stop either bulls or people from being hurt. Jallikattu is one of the most barbaric and gruesome traditions of India, using bulls for entertainment purposes, and violates the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
Dr Nanditha Krishna
Founder, CPR Environmental Education Centre
Chairperson, Humane Society International-India
Governing Body Member, Blue Cross of India, Chennai
Photo: Sharon St Joan / Not a jallikattu bull, but a bull rescued from illegal transport by Blue Cross of India.