Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday, once again seeking a ban on kambala, the traditional buffalo racing sport in Karnataka.
With the new petition, PETA is looking to overturn the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Second Amendment) Act, 2017, which currently allows kambala events and other bull and bullock cart races in the state.
PETA India pointed out in its petition that the new state law is clearly contrary to the purpose of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, a Parliament enacted legislation mandating that animals be protected from unnecessary pain and suffering. It also added that the sport violates the right to life of animals protected under Article 21 read with Article 51A(g) of the Constitution of India, which grants animals the fundamental right to be treated with compassion and dignity.
This is not the first time PETA has filed petitions seeking a ban on kambala. The traditional buffalo racing sport was initially banned through the Supreme Courtâ€™s May 7, 2014 judgement which also banned jallikattu, bullock cart races and kambala events which use buffalo bulls. In its judgement the Supreme Court had noted that buffaloes are not anatomically fit for racing and that it caused fear, pain and distress among the animals.
The ban was further enforced by the the Karnataka High Court in November 2016, following a public interest litigation filed by PETA. This led to widespread protests in January 2017 when thousands of kambala enthusiasts turned out, along with their buffaloes, in Moodabidri in Dakshina Kannada to oppose the ban.
The ban on the sport was lifted in July 2017 after the President assented to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance of 2017, which excludes kambala from the list of activities considered as practices involving animal cruelty.
The traditional buffalo racing sport is held mainly between November and March. In these races, a farmer controls a pair of buffaloes as they run through parallel slush tracks. â€śBuffalo bulls used in kambala events are pushed, dragged, beaten and forced to race until their bodies overheat and theyâ€™re left frothing at the mouth. The Supreme Court has already ruled that these races are illegal, and PETA India is calling for Karnatakaâ€™s new law to be struck down as unconstitutional,â€ť said PETA India CEO Dr Manilal Valliyate.
PETA documented evidence from November 2017 to March 2018 showing cruelty to bulls used in eight different kambala events organised in Karnataka. â€śReluctant buffalo bulls were pushed, pulled by nose ropes, dragged to the starting point, and rampantly beaten using wooden sticks throughout the race. Some also had marks on their bodies from previous beatings. Many who finished the race were frothing at the mouth, salivating heavily, and displaying increased respiration rates,â€ť notes a statement from PETA.