Thirty-one colleges in Chennai have declared a holiday as thousands of students, young professionals, and hardcore supporters of Tamil Nadu's bull taming sport stayed put on Chennai's famous Marina beach to demand the revival of jallikattu for the third consecutive day.
A protestor was seen buried neck deep in sand, surrounded by banners demanding protection for Tamil Nadu's culture, supposedly under threat after a Supreme Court ban on the 2000-year-old sport.
As the crowd grew over the last three days, much of the anger was directed against animal rights group People For Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The protesters have asked the state government to enforce a special ordinance to allow jallikattu in the state despite the ban by the apex court.
The sport has seen some high profile supporters, including actor Kamal Haasan and cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin. Animal rights activists claim that the bulls are subjected to torture to get them excited before the fight. "You basically see a bull having its tail bitten, being stabbed with sickles, agitated, stuff rubbed into its eyes with 20 people jumping on it," animal rights activist Rudra Krishna told NDTV.
Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi today in Delhi to persuade him to issue an ordinance to allow jallikattu in the state, reported the Telegraph. The Marina beach protests have seen an unprecedented mobilisation by students.
"We have no political leadership. This is a hundred per cent students' movement across the state. We want to see jallikattu staged this year, this month and this week," K. Vijay, a student leader on the beach, told the Telegraph.
The Times of India quoted sources as saying that the Centre is likely to wait for an SC order before taking any stand. News agencies reported the presence of a large number of policemen along the beach.
Deccan Chronicle claimed that as as many as 50,000 protestors had gathered at the Marina beach, shouting slogans, holding placards, and demanding action against PETA, whose petition led to the ban on the sport.
Amazing how an "old" sport torturing animals who can't hold protests or shout in studios has become touchstone for Tamil culture #jallikattu— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) January 18, 2017
Thanks for making #jallikattu famous and familiar! Now the general public is eager to witness and participate in the tradition!— Abishek S (@cinemapayyan) January 19, 2017