Jallikkattu – Not Sport, But Farce

Jallikkattu now becomes a hot potato topic in the country. After waging a legal war for almost a decade, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and Animal Welfare activists have won their case against “animal sports” such as Jallikkattu, Rekla (bullock-cart race) etc., involving bulls. A supreme Court bench comprising Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, in a landmark judgment on May 2014, banned Jallikkattu, Rekla and other such ‘sports’. The Supreme Court also struck down the “Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikkattu Act (TNRJ Act) 2009”. Subsequently, on June 22, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court dismissed 18 petitions, pending from 2009, which sought permission to conduct Jallikkattu in the State in the light of Supreme Court’s ban.

Since then, a debate has raged between supporters and opponents of the ban, and as there are valid points on both sides, it is imperative to have a clear understanding of the issue and to plan the future course of action. The Bullfight is a traditional sport as evidenced by Seals excavated at Mohenjo-Daro and by scriptures such as Bhagavatam; over time the sport got restricted to certain parts of the country and moved from the village to towns and cities. It has become a “free for all”, no longer restricted to the traditional agriculturist community.

The cruelty inflicted upon the helpless animals is beyond expression. Cutting the ear, pulling, twisting and biting the tail, soiling the tail and hind legs with faeces, making them stand for hours, causing injuries by chasing them and hitting and poking them with sticks and knives, applying irritants into their eyes and noses, using tight and thick nose-ropes, keeping them in cramped conditions without sufficient food and water, forcing them to drink liquor and even spectators beating them are also cruelties detailed with photographic and video graphic evidence in the AWBI report, four years after the proclamation of TNJR Act by Tamil Nadu government.

The day Jallikkattu moved from villages to towns and cities, far away from the temples, it lost its sanctity and traditional fervour and gained in commercial flavour in the process. The greed for money and fame increased and commitment to tradition decreased. The rural traditional sport became an urban and suburban commercial entertainment, showing scant regard for the well-being of animals and humans. We have come across deaths of scores of players and spectators over the years. Even during the so- called training period, the bulls are subjected to cruelties such as forcing it to thrash its head and horns repeatedly against the ground, trying it to two poles tightly immobilising it etc..

The bulls were viewed and treated as objects or instruments of entertainment instead of living beings. This forced the AWBI and animal welfare activists to act against this farce and the rest is history.


In the name of tradition, it is not clear if the organisers included Indus Valley Seals, verses from Bhagavatam and other archaeological and literary pieces of evidence in their defence before the Supreme Court. The argument that twisting tails, cutting ears and using nose- ropes are not cruelties will not cut ice with the Court of law, which views the case under the PCA Act. The organisers had to defend their case under the purview of the PCA Act. They were not able to present a sound defence, because they violated conditions even in 2012 and 2013, four years after these were imposed by the Supreme Court.

It is argued by organisers and supporters of Jallikkattu that the bulls are sent for slaughter due to the ban of the sport. They claim that the bull is reared with love and affection as a member of the family; taken care of by feeding the highly nutritious food with special attention for its well-being; and that as much as Rs.500/ per day is spent on the bull, all year round. When they can send their own family member to the slaughterhouse just because Jallikkattu is banned, is not the claim of taking care of the bull with love and affection farcical? Doesn’t this prove that they are for money only? Are they not spending so much because the Jallikkattu bull’s market rate is over Rs. 1Lakh?

They argue that Jallikkattu helps them in protection, preservation and breeding of native cattle. If they really want to protect and preserve native breeds, why should they send the bulls for slaughter just because of sport is banned?. Is Jallikkattu the only option to breed native cattle? Can’t they use them for breeding, farming and producing biogas, organic manure and other dung- based products?

The day the agriculturist replaced bulls with tractors, he lost his credibility; exposed his avarice. The day he started compromising on the genuine tradition of Jallikkattu and made it a commercial sport, inflicting pain on helpless animals, he lost his ground for arguments. It is a farce that the bulls are sold for slaughter only after the ban on Jallikkattu. Selling male progeny has been happening for years! As he has started selling them for slaughter, he can no more claim that he is passionate about breeding them.

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Muhafis Khan

Author: admin

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