Angry protesters across Tamil Nadu have one agenda - bring back jallikattu to the state. But as they petition different authorities on the issue, their anger is targeted mainly at one body: PETA.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an international NGO that works for the protection of animals, says they’re being picked on because they’re a soft target. “Anger against PETA is not going to have any effect on the laws under which jallikattu, bull race and bull fights have been banned,” said Poorva Joshipura, India CEO of PETA.
While they are one of the petitioners in the case against jallikattu, PETA is by no means the only organisation supporting the ban. The Animal Welfare Board of India is among the many organisations and individuals that are against the use of the bull as a performance animal.
Asked whether the reaction to PETA was because of the radical stand they have taken, Poorva denied the claim, saying, “PETA hasn’t banned jallikattu. Jallikattu is banned under Indian law, which has been in place for many years. All PETA can do is to work to make sure animal rights are upheld.”
“As much as the focus on PETA is an honour, the credit is not due to us,” she added.
The PETA India head also questioned the priorities of the protesters. “These protests are coming at a time when TN is under severe drought, 144 farmers have committed suicide as a result of the droughts,” she said.
When asked about the claim that jallikattu will protect native breeds from dying out, Poorva said there are several ways to protect indigenous cattle.
“I would invite you to join us in our efforts where we have been working to stop thousands of cattle that have been going from Tamil Nadu to Kerala for slaughter. They are native bulls. That is for the leather industry and for the meat industry. The number of bulls (that you can save through) jallikattu is very less,” she said.
“Other states have incentives to use native bulls. You don’t have to hurt them to preserve them,” said Poorva.
Refusing to back down, PETA says it’s high time people start taking the point of view of animals into consideration. “Cruelty is cruelty. Cruelty is not culture,” she said.
“If we want to look at what our culture is as a country, we only have to look to the Constitution, which makes it the mandate of every single citizen to have kindness to animals. Our culture is to be law abiding, to respect and support the Supreme Court. Tamil culture is so rich, we don’t need to hurt somebody else.”
PETA has come under attack from protesters and jallikattu supporters across the state, who are demanding a ban on the NGO for its stand on jallikattu.