New Delhi: The central government today gave its nod to conduct Jallikattu, the controversial bull-taming sport celebrated around the festival of Pongal every year in Tamil Nadu.
"Bulls may continue to be exhibited or trained as a performing animal, at events such as Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat in the manner by the customs of any community or practiced traditionally under the customs or as part of culture," a notification issued by the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change dated Thursday said.
The move has caused quite a stir since it follows a Supreme Court order in 2014 that had banned the exhibition of bulls in the popular festival. The apex court's decision came following demands from rights groups who pointed to animal cruelty and human deaths during the event.
The SC had then upheld a notification by the MoEF categorising bulls in the list of animals which shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animals.
The ministry, however, has stipulated several conditions for allowing the sport.
The MoEF notice issued yesterday further states that such races will organised on a 'proper track' and bulls are put to proper testing by the authorities of the Animal Husbandry.
"Such event shall take place in any district where it is being traditionally held annually, at such place explicitly permitted by the district collector or the district magistrate," the MoEF order held.
"Jallikattu, the moment the bull leaves the enclosure, it shall be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metre," it added.
It further noted that authorities must ensure that the animals are not subjected to any cruelty. It said that the events should be monitored by district society for prevention of cruelty to animals and State Animal Welfare Board or the district authorities ensuring that no unnecessary pain or suffering is inflicted or caused, in any manner to the animals.
Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan, who hails from Tamil Nadu, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving permission for conducting Jallikattu this year. "There was a situation that there will not be any chances of conducting this more than 200 year old tradition. Due to some reasons this event was facing a crisis, but our Prime Minister has made all the arrangement now," he said.