Jallikattu's return opens Pandora's box on other banned sports

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The massive movement in Tamil Nadu saw the government crumbling under pressure. As the revocation of the ban on Jallikattu becomes a reality, the chorus to revoke the ban on other sports involving animals is growing.

First Jallikattu, now other banned sport

Looking at the way the Centre supported the pro-Jallikattu movement, people of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam and Andhra Pradesh have now started demanding that the 2014 Supreme Court order banning other sports along with Jallikattu also be revoked. In Karnataka, people from the coastal regions have started voicing their opinion to revoke the stay on Kambala, a bullock cart race held in Tulu speaking parts of Karnataka. The Karnataka high court in 2016 had stayed the races after a petition by PETA. In their petition, PETA had claimed that the race was violating SC order on banning sports that are cruel to animals. The state now awaits the HC's order post-January 30 on a petition to vacate the stay. Even before the HC can pronounce its order, cries to allow Kambala are slowly rising in Karnataka.

The Shiv Sena on Friday threatened a Marina Beach-style protest in Maharashtra if the ban on traditional bullock cart race was not lifted. Bullock cart races were an essential part of the annual celebrations that are organised in Pune during the Ganapati festival. Shiv Sena once again pulled the tradition card claiming the sport to be well over 300 years old. The race was banned along with Jallikattu.

In Assam, the clamour to lift the ban on bulbuli (nightingale) fights are growing. The Assamese nightingale fight organised as part of Magh Bihu did not take place post the SC's order but the support Jallikattu has been getting has led to the people of Assam to seek revoke of the ban on it. The fights are held at the Haigriva Madhav temple in Assam's Hajo township. Nightingales are caught and trained for the event. The people claim that the sport dates back to the era of the Ahom King Swargadeo Pramatta Singha and was started during his rule between 1744 and 1751.

Andhra Pradesh has gone a step ahead; instead of demanding a lift on the ban the state has witnessed an outright violation of the Supreme Court order. Despite a ban, Kodipandayam or cockfights were organised in various villages of Seemandhra. Cockfights are part of Makar Sankranti celebrations in Andhra Pradesh and lakhs of rupees are used for betting and gambling during the sport. This too was banned by the SC for cruelty to animals. Days before the event was to be held the Supreme Court had dismissed a petition seeking to vacate a stay so as to allow the banned sport but it went on at various locations nonetheless.

While clearing the Tamil Nadu government's ordinance allowing Jallikattu, the Union home ministry is said to have made a change that would make it state-specific. Did the government just open a Pandora's box by letting the ordinance on Jallikattu pass?

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