Protests by those in support of Jallikattu have intensified across Tamil Nadu as thousands participated in an overnight meeting on the Marina beach. Chief minister O. Panneerselvam is slated to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 19 January to discuss the current situation in the state. AIADMK chief, V K Sasikala has also promised to move and adopt resolution in the ensuing Assembly session for removal of ban against Jallikattu.
A joint meeting of various Tamil outfits has called for a dawn to dusk bandh in support of jallikattu on January 20.
The bull-taming sport which is held as a part of Pongal festivities was banned by the Supreme Court in May 2014 citing animal welfare issues. Ever since the ban order, people have been demanding the government to take steps to allow the conduct of the sport.
The support for the protesters is growing with the students of SRM University in Chennai announcing to demonstrate outside their institution. Lawyers in Namakkal district have announced boycott of courts.
Thousands of people also joined in on social media platforms in signs of growing anger over the ban. Many IT professionals have also joined the movement making the movement an urban one.
Despite police disconnecting the power supply at Marina Beach, the protest continued with mobile phone lights in the night.
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, shouts of "Chinnamma Chinamma, OPS enge ma?" (Where is Sasikala Natarajan and O Panneerselvam?" and "PETA varigai, Jallikattu vendum" (Ban PETA, we want Jallikattu) rent the air.
A man even buried himself in sand to protest the ban on Jallikattu.
The protesters have also been distributing food and water to all participants and and garbage is being collected to keep the beach litter-free.
According a ground report by CNN-News 18, the protesters camping at Chennai's Marina beach are predominantly young, educated people who have come out in support of the sport without any political backing. They want the government to introduce regulations to keep animal cruelty in check but say banning the sport is against Tamil pride.
DMK party's Working President and leader of the opposition in Tamil Nadu, M. K. Stalin, urged chief minister to meet the protesters and take immediate action for holding the sport.
He also called PETA 'anti-national' for wanting to do away with traditional sports like Jallikattu.
Fisheries minister D Jayakumar and cabinet colleague K Pandiarajan spoke to the protesters and have promised to exert pressure on the Centre as well as meet the President for an ordinance to lift the ban.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Centre's January 2016 notification, which is under legal scrutiny and will get favourable verdict, allowed the traditional sport while accommodating animal care concerns.
The demonstration began on 17 Jan morning after the news of the arrest of Jallikattu protesters in Alanganallur town of Madurai district. The protests in Madurai started on 16 Jan, when people hoisted blackflags on their houses and assembled to voice their protest against the ban.
The protesters also seek ban on animal rights group PETA after it issued a statement that said the purpose of this festival is to thank the nature which cannot be achieved by tormenting bulls and causing injuries and deaths to people and bulls.
On 12 Jan, the bull taming sport was conducted in coastal Cuddalore town defying the ban, following which 28 people were held.
The Madras High Court says it will not "interfere" on the issue of protests in the city. It says the Supreme Court was seized of the matter.
The protesters got their boost with popular actor Vijay lending his support by saluting them.
"Law was not created to rob people off their tradition and rights but to protect it. Jallikattu is every Tamilian's identity. Those who are protesting against the ban on Jallikattu are united by the feeling that they are Tamilians but not out of compulsion or political pressure. I bow down to each and everyone of them," Vijay said in a video message.
"I'd be really happy if those arrested are released immediately," he said.
Actor Suriya, in between his promotional tour for upcoming Tamil action "C3", lashed out at animal rights advocacy group PETA, which is aggressively campaigning against Jallikattu.
Actor G. V. Prakash, singer-lyricist Arunraja Kamaraj and filmmaker Karthik Subbaraj joined supporters on ground on Tuesday.
While Prakash and Arunraja are observing silent protest at Marina beach here, Karthik is leading the crowd in Madurai.
Actor Kamal Hassan said: "They (animal rights activists) must also ban biryani then. It's (jallikattu) is a part of our culture. I am one of the few actors who can boast that I have actually embraced a bull. I am a Tamilian, I love that sport, it doesn't kill a bull. In fact, if you hurt the bull, you are disbarred from the game."
(With inputs from agencies)
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