By Sharon St Joan
A December 31, 2015 editorial in the newspaper The Hindu, “A Stand Against Reason,” describes the possibility that the cruel sport of “jallikattu,” bull-racing, will be re-introduced in Tamil Nadu, although it was banned last year by the Supreme Court. Here is the gist of the main points in The Hindu editorial:
In human sports, the contenders have a choice as to whether or not to participate in a sport where they may incur a risk of injury. Of course, animals have no such choice.
This is especially true of jallikattu, in which frightened bulls in pain are forced to run a gauntlet of young men trying to leap onto them, hanging onto their horns. The essential cruelty of this “sport” lies in the fact that bulls, unlike horses, do not naturally run. They are tortured behind the scenes, and the significant pain inflicted on them forces them to run through the crowds.
Therefore, it is impossible to hold jallikattu events without inflicting pain and cruelty on the bulls. There is no such thing as “humane jallikattu.”
Last year, the Supreme Court of India, ruled that jallikattu is illegal because it is a violation of long-standing Indian law against animal cruelty. Proponents of jallikattu had argued that these cruel events should be allowed because they are a tradition. However, in a country like India, where traditions go back thousands of years, jallikattu is actually quite recent. It goes back only one or two hundred years. Many of the spectators are foreign tourists, and most Indians do not follow a sport that is unkind to bulls. It was judged to be illegal, by the Supreme Court, because it is abusive towards the animals.
Since then, the Tamil Nadu government has requested that legislation be passed to re-instate the practice of jallikattu. It is surprising that the Minister of the Environment, Prakash Javadekar, has indicated that he is in favor of this request.
Not only is jallikattu extremely inhumane to the bulls, it also resulted in many injuries and deaths every year to the young men who chased the bulls. It would have been preferable if the Tamil Nadu government had taken to heart the intent of the Supreme Court, which was to prevent human injury and loss of life, as well as preventing animal suffering.
It goes against good sense and reason to seek to re-instate a sport that the Supreme Court of India banned, following very thorough, extensive testimony, because of its excessive violence and the suffering inflicted on both humans and bulls.
To read the original December 31, 2015 editorial in The Hindu, click here.
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Photo: Sharon St Joan, 2012. These are not jallikattu bulls; they are bulls rescued from illegal transport by Blue Cross of India.