Jallikattu has become a flashpoint in Tamil Nadu with thousands of protesters coming together to support the sport. Chorus is also growing to ban the animal rights organisation the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals from Tamil Nadu. While people's anger is evident on the streets of Tamil Nadu, PETA and activists associated with it claim that the anger against the organisation is unfair.
Commenting on the argument that is was a traditional sport and hence should be allowed to continue, Vinay Kulkarni, an animal rights activist who supports PETA said, "Jallikattu was earlier sportive but now it is sheer cruelty. I oppose it and so does PETA because we are fighting for animal rights, for animal welfare. The anger is unjustified and unfair. We did not ban it but the Supreme Court did."
Many protesters agitating in support of Jallikattu have said that a total ban was unnecessary and putting regulations in place will ensure the safety of bulls as well as continuity of tradition. Countering this argument, activists asked who will monitor the sport? The event is organised on a large scale annually across the state and having regulations will create a new problem of implementing it, he added.
Meanwhile, PETA India has been responding to the criticism it has been receiving over the Jallikattu issue. "Jallikattu exploits bulls' natural nervousness as prey animals by deliberately placing them in a terrifying situation in which they are forced to run away from those they perceive as predators. Cruelty is inherent in these events, as bulls are not anatomically suited to them. It is observed that forcing bulls to participate, subjects them to unnecessary pain and suffering, so it ruled that such races are not permitted by law," PETA said in a statement.
Rubbishing allegations of PETA having vested interests in taking on such issues, it said, "Jallikattu, bull races and other similar events also violate the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. This means the causing of unnecessary suffering to bulls which are inherent in these events has been illegal for 56 years."
PETA, a mafia, claim protesters
The protests at Chennai's Marina Beach have no precedent in recent vintage. Politicians who attempted to be part of the marina protests were booed away, including Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam working president M K Stalin. The people's agitation is only gaining momentum. Protesters have been demanding a ban on PETA for peddling the 'wrong image' of Jallikattu and Tamil Nadu.
"PETA is a marketing company. Their job is to pick on issues, show them in a bad light and get foreign funding. They work like a mafia, organised in their endeavour to please their foreign bosses. Their lobby starts from here till the Supreme Court and their fight is against poor farmers who can't fight legal battles. It is atrocious to say that Jallikattu is cruelty. I am an animal lover and I have been the sport. Yes there may have been instances of animals being ill-treated but generalising it is unfair," said Muralidharan who runs a shelter for abandoned animals in Chennai but believes that ban on Jallikattu is unfair.
Protesters have refused to give in to the government's pleas. they refused to leave the venue despite AIADMK general secretary assuring to explore legal measures to ban PETA on Wednesday. "For me, this protest is a revolution. Last year 24 people protested in support of Jallikattu and this year there are 25,000 of us and I assure you that there will be 2.5 lakh of us if the ban is not revoked", Muralidharan added.
Protesters believe they do not need any political party or leader to lead them in this protest. They hope that their protest makes an impact on the Supreme Court that is yet to pass a judgement on the Jallikattu issue. With the central government refusing to pass an ordinance, the SC order is what everyone is waiting for.