Even as the jallikattu season is currently underway in Tamil Nadu, a violent caste clash broke out over the bull-taming sport in Trichy district on Monday. According to reports, a few Dalit men took part in the jallikattu event held in Adavathur, Trichy and tamed bulls belonging to caste Hindu members. This enraged a group within the caste Hindu community, which then reportedly launched a violent attack on Dalit homes in the area.
In a video message from the hospital, one Dalit man injured in the clashes said, “It has been three days since the incident happened. Till now, the Srirangam MLA (AIADMK’s Valarmathi) has not come and asked what happened. We complained saying we were beaten because we are lower castes. Because they (the police) also belong to the same caste (as the alleged attackers), they are taking their side. We went to complain, we were beaten and kept inside the police station.” The man who said that he was injured on the head also alleged that the MLA was in cahoots with the inspector overseeing the case.
One of the major criticisms against jallikattu has come from Dalit activists and politicians who have called the sport casteist, pointing out that Dalit communities have been excluded from participating in the event or discriminated against at the arena.
In 2017, following a massive protest across Tamil Nadu, the banned bull-taming sport was legitimised through an ordinance by the Tamil Nadu government. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 was amended for the state on the grounds that jallikattu plays a vital role in preserving and promoting the culture and tradition in large parts of the state.
As many as 57 people have been reported injured during this season's jallikattu, which is conducted around the Pongal festival season. Bull tamers, handlers and members of the general public were hospitalised in Madurai and Thanjavur.