Over 35 men have been injured in the annual bull-taming event of Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu’s Avaniyapuram in Madurai district. The injured include participants, spectators and bull owners. They were sent to a government hospital for treatment.
The event at Avaniyapuram marked the beginning of the annual bull-taming sport. Over 700 bulls and about 750 participants took part in the event.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition to stay Jallikattu. Saying that it will not interfere in the matter, the apex court dismissed the petition and asked the petitioners to approach the Madras High Court.
In May 2014, the Supreme Court had banned the traditional bull-taming sport based on the petitions filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Following massive protests in the state, on January 23, 2017, the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed the central Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, thereby allowing the conduct of Jallikattu in the state. The state passed the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendments) Act. 2017.
Jallikattu will be held in other parts of Madurai district in the next two days — at Palamedu on Thursday and at Alanganallur on January 17.
The traditional Jallikattu is part of the Pongal festival celebrations in the state. A bull tamer has to hang on the bull's hump for a few minutes to claim the prize, which includes gold and silver coins and household articles.
Participants were instructed not to touch the horns of the bulls, not to chase the animal in large number and to let go of the bull after tthe allotted distance. In each round, about 60 to 70 participants with colour coded T-shirts took part.
A huge number of spectators, including many foreign tourists, attended the event. The sporting arena was barricaded from the galleries and enclosures marked for spectators.
An official told PTI that some participants, who were found to be under the influence of alcohol, and some restless animals were disallowed. No bulls have been injured in the event.
Elaborate security arrangements were made and access to medical facilities were on standby. The event was held under the supervision of a panel, led by a retired judge.
Three men who successfully held on to a high number of animals - between 10 and 15 bulls - were awarded the first three prizes. Other participants, who dominated fewer or a single animal successfully, were given a variety of prizes, including vessels and silver coins.
(With inputs from PTI)