Jallikattu: Why the campaign must appeal to Indian govt and judiciary, not just attack PETA

Even going after OPS may not be entirely fruitful.
Jallikattu: Why the campaign must appeal to Indian govt and judiciary, not just attack PETA
Jallikattu: Why the campaign must appeal to Indian govt and judiciary, not just attack PETA
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On Wednesday morning, when Chennai woke up to yet another day, the thousands of protesters who had gathered at the Marina Beach in Chennai the previous day were still camped there, having spent the whole night at the beach.

There were no leaders, no strategy and no clear call for action. It was a protest full of rhetoric, passion and a single-minded demand – allow Jallikattu.

That this seems to be a grass-root level uprising is very encouraging, but the lack of clarity in thought is not just evident, but also evidently harmful to their cause too. Passionate calls for saving Tamil pride make for a great spectacle, but may not work to their benefit.

It is disappointing to note that even political leaders, including DMK’s Working President MK Stalin, have chosen to attack PETA, and that has only directed further anger against the NGO, which could be of no use at this point.

PETA, like any other NGO supporting the Jallikattu ban, is an animal rights organization. They stand against any exploitation of animals. They are against the use of animal products and have run global campaigns against leather, fur, dairy and other animal products.

Their job, their well-defined goal, is to fight for animal rights, not respect the sentiments of people. It is their stated objective to fight against the ‘sentiments’ of people which they believe harms animals. Even if their methods are sometimes over-the-top, we need organizations like PETA to make us sit up and think about how we treat animals.

So, for supporters of Jallikattu to complain about PETA is rather pointless at this juncture. In fact, the attacks on PETA and its campaigners are only further weakening the pro-Jallikattu movement, enabling activists to paint the entire movement as misogynist, when it is not.

The problem is not PETA. The problems are with the Supreme Court and the government, and the larger idea of jurisprudence in the Jallikattu case. The solution, too, lies with these two pillars of our democracy – the judiciary and the executive.

It is well within the right of any person to demand a ban on anything they want, and go to court. It is the courts and the government which bears the responsibility to do what is right for the people, and it is the courts and the government which can change the law now.

This is why, supporters of Jallikattu must move away from creating an abusive spectator sport targeting PETA, and instead focus what can give them the result they desire.

The easiest way to get Jallikattu to be legal again is to press the Centre to pass an ordinance. With that in mind, perhaps even attacking the state government is useless at this juncture. TN CM OPS can only be a part of the movement asking the Centre to do something about it. He, himself, has little say in the matter.

In going after animal rights organisations, the issue is digressing into a gladiatorial war between tradition and activism. It needs to be a fight for the rights of all of us, as citizens, against the pillar of democracy which denies us our rights.

Don’t target PETA, let them do their job. Let’s demand our rights from the institutions meant to protect them.

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