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Opinion

Green light: TN government allows Jallikattu with Covid restrictions

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The Tamil Nadu government decided on Wednesday to allow Jallikattu, the traditional sport of bull taming and a symbol of Tamil culture, although denounced as barbaric by animal rights activists, to go ahead during the Pongal harvest festival. in January, provided that participants adhere to the restrictions imposed to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

All participants must undergo a Covid-19 test in a government laboratory and present a negative certificate, a government statement said. The number of participants, or bull tamers, will be limited to 150 at one event.

Spectators cannot exceed 50% of the venue’s capacity, so the rules of social distancing are followed and everyone must wear masks. All participants will be tested using a thermal scanner to check their body temperature, according to the statement.

Jallikattu has been controversial and has been temporarily banned several times in the past. In 2014, the Supreme Court outlawed the sport in a plea brought by the Animal Welfare Board of India and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The ban was lifted in 2017 with an amendment to the law after protests across the state.

Animal welfare groups have called the sport barbarian. Tamil Nadu’s political parties and supporters of the sport say it is part of the state’s tradition.

The decision to allow the sport even amid the pandemic comes ahead of the assembly elections to be held in Tamil Nadu in early 2021 and some see political overtones tailored to the All India state government Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam ( AIADMK).

“We are disappointed. It is a political decision with elections just around the corner, ”said Dr. Chinni Krishna, former Vice Chairman of the Chennai-based Animal Welfare Board of India. “We want a total ban on Jallikattu from the point of view of the humans and animals involved.”

Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Peravai, a body representing participants in sport, welcomed the decision

“Every year during December we prepare our bulls and trainers, but we had doubts that Jallikattu will happen this year due to the pandemic, so we are happy that the government made a good decision,” said PR Rajasekaran, President of Tamil Nadu. Jallikattu. Peravai.

“Generally, bull trainers are given a physical fitness test about three days before the event; this year we will also test them for Covid-19. ”

Jallikattu is particularly popular in Madurai, Dindigul, Theni, Thanjavur, and Perambalur districts.

In 2017, protests broke out across the state for the ban against Jallikattu to be lifted. But the Tamil Nadu government unanimously enacted legislation to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 to preserve the state’s cultural heritage and ensure the survival of native bull breeds.

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