Tamil Nadu govt on backfoot as Jallikattu protests continue despite 'stop-gap' …
Protesters forced the cancellation of a Jallikattu event that Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam was supposed to inaugurate on Sunday, even though the bull-taming sport was held in the absence of government representatives at a few places across the state.
The government initially considered moving the event from the original venue – Alanganallur in Madurai – to Kovilpatti in Dindigul, but was forced to withdraw its plans completely after protesters made an appearance there too.
The protesters expressed dissatisfaction with the Jallikattu ordinance promulgated by the government, dubbing it as a “stop-gap arrangement” that’s vulnerable to legal scrutiny. They demanded a more permanent solution to ensure that Jallikattu was held without any hassles year after year.
Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam decided to return to Chennai after protesters prevented him from entering the venue. Before leaving Madurai, he told mediapersons that Jallikattu will be held in Alanganallur only if the residents want it. The assembly will pass the relevant legislation for amending the law on Monday, he added.
“It is a permanent solution, but now it is up to the protesters and people of Alanganallur to hold the event,” the chief minister said.
However, Jallikattu events were held at Pudukottai, Tiruchirapalli and even Puducherry.
Sunday’s developments came as a setback to the AIADMK government, which was keen to appropriate credit for “winning the Jallikattu battle” by forcing the Centre to pass an ordinance to this effect. Even local BJP leaders like Union minister Pon Radhakrishan were quick to take credit for the ordinance, professing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s love for Tamil traditions and culture.
However, this contention was rejected by protesters across Tamil Nadu, who blame three entities – animal rights group PETA, Panneerselvam and the Centre – for the ban on the bull-taming event.
At Coimbatore, state minister SP Velumani inaugurated rekala races – also involving bovines – only to be surrounded by protesters who prevented the bullock carts from crossing the starting line. Violence was prevented only by the presence of a strong police posse at the spot.
For the government, which had initially thought that the worst was over with the issuance of the ordinance, breaking the agitation is proving to be a tough task. A senior AIADMK leader said the government has nobody to negotiate with, considering that the agitation seems completely “leaderless” at the outset. Groups of protesters had congregated at Marina beach alone, and they were all blaring different demands on their loudspeakers. While some could be heard asking the Centre to explain the stepmotherly treatment meted out to Tamil Nadu, others wanted to know why Hindi was being forced on Tamilians.
Political analyst Prof Ramu Manivannan said it remains to be seen whether the mass upsurge would lead to something more concrete in the days to come.
Meanwhile, DMDK chief Vaiko – in a letter to the Prime Pinister – said only the Centre has the right to amend the Prevention of Cruelty Act, and remove bulls from the list of animals prohibited from being trained or exhibited.
He said that the real culprits were the Congress and the DMK, under whose regime bulls were included in the prohibited list – eventually leading to the Supreme Court ban in 2014. He also targeted PETA, stating that Tamils across the world wanted the “foreign body” banned.