It seems that the new year started with a bang, a case of long-festering grudges, angst and a lot of mad bulls in the mix. The recent #jallikattu flash mob protest, a non-political students’ protest, just got out of hand but here’s how it all started.
Jallikattu is a #sport where the bulls are goaded to run amok while many young men try to take the #bull down by grabbing it by its hump and horns. According to PETA, jallikattu is repugnant and to term it a sport will require a stretch of imagination since it would involve bystanders pulling your hair out, breaking your tail, rubbing iron shards into your skin to irritate it further, biting your tail and legs to make you run faster. While this particular sport has ancient roots, going back five thousand years – the fact remains that given today’s context and that some of these bulls have been mistreated and harmed to make them run amok is exactly why the Honorable Supreme court saw fit to kick it in the teeth and banned it in 2014.
Jallikattu and the bull in the mix
But despite many requests by locals who view the sport as a continuation of their local traditions, the court nixed all attempts which finally led to the flash mob protests at the Marina beach in Chennai and at Madurai. Meanwhile, PETA is dead set on getting Jallikattu banned at any cost which naturally resulted in PETA finding itself facing the protesters’ ire. Thanks to PETA, most of Chennai gathered on the Marina beach, in what has been the biggest block party in recent memory.
However, it soon became evident that there were many vested interests among the young students protesting for reinstating this sport, who saw this as an opportunity to create a law and order problem, with many screaming anti India slogans and displaying knives, swords and cricket bats during the sixth day of the Jallikattu protest. The authorities took note of this and decided to act this morning, by evicting everyone from the beach. Meanwhile, the beach has been cleared of all unruly elements but if rumors are to be believed, more protests of the violent sort are being organized for tomorrow.
Contrary to PETA’s claims in the courts, not all the bulls are mistreated and of late, some of the bull owners have started regulating the same. But as a continuation of traditions and Tamil ethos, the issue has resonated all over the state, impacting many from all walks of life from a six-year-old to a 75-year-old rickshaw puller – hinting at a disconnect, and a north and south divide. Moreover, the state government of Tamilnadu recently introduced a bill which legalizes this sport as of this evening. But the bill needs to be ratified by the parliament to convert into an act, and once that’s done, a permanent solution would have been achieved to the thorny question.
And while no one would want to mistreat animals, the fact remains that the current protesters view the recent ban on Jallikattu as a direct attack on their Tamil identity. In the end, it all came down to egos, male pride, their love for this sport and the urge to throw stones at authorities, while they decided to retaliate in kind with batons and boots, resulting in the situation descending into a free for all. With the peaceful sit-in's turning violent, the police barricaded the crowds, used their batons and tear gas shells as a method of dispersing the unruly protesters. Apart from a few violent skirmishes, including a police station being burnt down, and a few being hurt during the eviction, the damage was minimal.
Despite its tag as an extremely insular society, with the recent protests proving otherwise, Chennai residents are anxiously waiting and watching with baited breath, while hoping that the mad bulls in charge do not rampage out of control. After all, it is a moo’ story but you may want to read up since it concerns animal rights, sports, Jallikattu, the democratic process, the art of protesting and the rule of law.