Wave of protest on Marina Beach against Jallikattu ban

  • Tamil pride to the fore as support swells for traditional sport

Special Correspondent

Chennai: It is Tamil sentiment and pride versus judicial correctness and love for animals. Those who know Tamil culture and the place of Jallikattu in it would not have been surprised by the tidal wave of protest on Marina Beach on Wednesday against the Supreme Court order. It is a lesson for judiciary and the political class to learn that anything against the popular sentiment is bound to boomerang.

Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, super stars Rajani Kant, Kamal Haasan, Suriya, Vijay, Vishal, Lowrance, Test cricketer Ravichandran Aswin, film stars Dhanush, Kushbu, Simbu, Prakash and many other celebrities backed the protests. Vishal even penned a letter to the Prime Minister pleading to allow the sport to be played. Many political leaders like DMK working president Stalin had vociferously supported the traditional sport which has become an inseparable part of Sankranti festivities, particularly in Madurai, the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu.

When a TV channel conducted a tele-poll to know which side the people are, more than 70 per cent said they are for Jallikattu and less than 25 per cent said they are for ending cruelty to animals. Social media did its part to trigger protests. It made the students and IT professionals to back Jallikattu in a big way. Jaggi Vasudev cited the instance of Americans protesting against dog festival being celebrated by the Chinese. He said the cultural sentiments have to be honoured.

Tamil Nadu which is known for prolonged and effective movement against anything imposed on them from Delhi or elsewhere did respond in its own way to protest against the SC order banning Jallikattu. The movement forced TN Chief Minister O Panneerselvam to seek an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to renew the request of the Government of Tamil Nadu to issue an ordinance allowing the traditional game. The CM is going to meet the PM on Thursday in Delhi. Pannerselvam was asked by the protesters to give his nod for Jallikattu. They asked when Karnataka Assembly could pass a resolution on Cauvery waters opposing the decision of the Supreme Court why not Tamil Nadu Assembly pass a resolution opposing the ban imposed by the apex court. Pannerselvam is yet to settle in his chair and not in a position to take on the Centre.

The crowds were not organized by political parties. People were there on the beach on their own raising slogans against the ban and the Central Government for not issuing an ordinance. It is not only against the ban on Jallikattu that mobilized the protestors. The famers were facing the worst drought in 140 years. The Cauvery waters dispute has been bothering them for decades with Karnataka making it very difficult for the farmers by refusing to release water. There was a near civil war between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on Cauvery waters last year. There has been a growing alienation of the people of Tamil Nadu for the last several months.

The pent-up anger was given vent with the Sankranti festivities being blocked by the court order. They would have accepted some precautions to be followed had they been advised by the apex court. But outright ban was taken as an insult resulting in a sort of rebellion. The argument in favour of Jallikattu is that the game would help increase finer local breed of bulls. They are against importing foreign breed. Incidentally, about 60 Jersey bulls landed at Chennai airport on Wednesday. The protesters argue that instead of leaving the native bulls to the abattoirs and importing the foreign bulls, it is imperative to encourage the nurturing of native variety.

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