By Chris Kamalendran
Sri Lankan animal rights activists have come out strongly against local groups which are calling on the Tamil Nadu Government to lift a ban on the bull-taming sport popularly known as ‘Jallikattu’.
The move came as local groups, mostly in the northern and eastern provinces staged protests to show solidarity with Tamil Nadu people who want the ban lifted. The ban was imposed by the Supreme Court in 2014 and upheld again in 2016. But the Indian Government, by an executive order, lifted the ban yesterday, allowing Tamils in Tamil Nadu to stage Jallikattu from today.
Before the ban was lifted, protests were held in Colombo also yesterday at the Galle Face Green and Wellawatte. More protests were held in Point Pedro, Trincomalee, Jaffna, Batticaloa and Kilinochchi.
In this traditional sport held largely in Tamil Nadu, bulls are released into an arena and the tamer or the contestant attempts to catch the terrified animal by holding onto its hump until it reaches the finish line. Attractive prices are attached to the bull’s horns. The events are held the day after the Thai Pongal festival.
Animal rights activist Lalani Perera, trustee of the Cattle Protection Trust, said all forms of animal cruelty should be stopped as worldwide there is a campaign for the protection of animals. She said that in Sri Lanka they had campaigned against bullock cart races as part of the National New Year festivities.
Species Conservation Centre Chairperson Pubudu Weeraratne said local groups had no validity in expressing solidarity with the Tamil Nadu groups because worldwide there was a campaign to protect animals.”Similar to issues of human rights, there are many major campaigns for animal rights also,” he said.
One of the protesters, Jaffna University undergraduate Subramaniam Surena, said that the taming of bulls was a traditional heroic sports event and should not be stopped.