Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao has approved the Jallikattu ordinance and the bull taming sport will be held at Alaganallur in Madurai and other parts of the state on Sunday, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam announced on Saturday.
The CM thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support to Jallikattu, an emotive issue which triggered mass protests across the state.
‘On behalf of the government and people of Tamil Nadu, I thank you for all your support and assistance in enabling Jallikattu to be held in Tamil Nadu once again during the Pongal season, upholding the culture and tradition of the people of Tamil Nadu,’ he wrote to Modi in a letter.
The chief minister will inaugurate Jallikattu at Alanganallur, famous for conducting the rural sport, at 10 am.
In other areas, ministers from the respective regions will inaugurate the sport at 11 am, Panneerselvam said.
“I urge the youths, students and the general public to make the Jallikattu events across Tamil Nadu a grand success by participating in large numbers,” he said.
As the state-wide protests including at the Marina beach here by tens of thousands of protesters entered the fifth day, Panneerselvam said the assent of President Pranab Mukherjee to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 by Tamil Nadu was received on Friday night.
“The assent for the ordinance (amending the PCA Act) has been obtained from Governor also,” he said, adding, “Our dream to conduct Jallikattu this year has come true.”
He said a draft Bill to replace the ordinance and amend the PCA Act paving the way for holding Jallikattu without any hindrance will be introduced and adopted in the Tamil Nadu assembly’s session which begins on January 23.
“Jallikattu is to be conducted with customary fervour all over the state with all the necessary safeguards,” the CM said.
Earlier in the day, Modi said all efforts were being made to fulfil the cultural aspirations of the people of Tamil Nadu.
‘We are very proud of the rich culture of Tamil Nadu. All efforts are being made to fulfil the cultural aspirations of Tamil people,’ he tweeted.
Many students who gathered at the Marina Beach here said they would wait for Jallikattu to officially commence before they start dispersing.
Several people across the state welcomed the decision, saying Jallikattu was part of Tamil culture and steps should be taken immediately to make it a permanent feature.
“We want an assurance from the Central government that it would amend the PCA Act in the upcoming session of Parliament if the Supreme Court quashes the ordinance sometime later,” said Anbumani Ramadoss, who is Pattali Makkal Katchi youth wing president and son of party president S Ramadoss.
“I requested the President to look into the issue and provide a solution in favour of the interests of Tamil Nadu, its people and culture,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
Panneerselvam said the PM ‘was responsible for the approval of several central government departments and President Pranab Mukherjee in a single day’.
He also lauded the students, youths and the general public for their ‘absolutely’ peaceful protests in the matter without causing any law and order issues.
Answering a question on the criticism against the state government on the Jallikattu issue, the chief minister later told reporters that such criticisms are common in public life.
Recalling the long battle in courts on the Jallikattu issue, Panneerselvam in a statement said ever since 2006, the sport had come across several barriers.
Against the backdrop of the sport being held based on directions of the Supreme Court, the central government had notified bulls under section 22 of the PCA Act, 1960.
It prohibited training and exhibiting bulls as performing animals and following that in 2014 Supreme Court altogether banned the sport.
The apex court had also struck down the 2009 Act of Tamil Nadu government regulating Jallikattu holding it repugnant to the PCA Act 1960.
Panneerselvam said late Jayalalithaa had made continuous efforts to hold Jallikattu and cited her giving a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 demanding legal measures to conduct the sport.
Tamil Nadu had been knocking on the doors of the apex court and filed a review petition against the ban which was also dismissed by the top court in December last.
In 2015, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MPs had spoken in Parliament batting for an amendment by the Centre to allow Jallikattu.
However, since that was not done, Jayalalithaa had urged promulgation of an ordinance on December 22, 2015 to allow the sport.
Following such efforts, the Centre had issued a notification on January 7, 2016 allowing Jallikattu which was subsequently stayed by the Supreme Court.
Jallikattu supporters during the day staged rail blockade at Madurai even as train services continued to remain affected due to the ongoing stir.
The Southern Railway announced cancellation of some trains besides diversion of others.
Meanwhile, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary V K Sasikala claimed that she had directed the party and the government to make sustained efforts for the conduct of the bull taming sport.
The AIADMK government’s continuous efforts in the lines of the late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and the ‘dignified’ protests taken forward by young men and women had ‘reclaimed the bravery sport for us’, she said.
“I consider Tamils’ rights and sentiments as (my) two eyes. That is why I had earlier issued a statement in support of the students and young protesters. I made the government keep up sustained efforts for conduct of Jallikattu,” she said.
Sasikala also thanked Modi for ‘understanding the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu and having supported’ the state government’s efforts to ensure conduct of Jallikattu.
The AIADMK general secretary said she was following the slogan ‘I am because of the people, I am for the people’ by Jayalalithaa while the government was following the path laid down by the late chief minister.
‘I wish to assure one and all that both myself and this government will work together for the rights and welfare of the Tamil race (sic),’ she said in a statement.
Sasikala also appealed to the agitating youth to withdraw their stir since they had the ‘responsibility’ of carrying on wit their education and other routine activities.
She also likened their protests to the Philippines’ ‘People Power’ revolution and extended her greetings to the Tamil youth for carrying out dignified protests, bereft of any untoward incidents.
Such protests had proved that the Tamil race was ‘mature’ and that its people were ‘selfless’, she added.
Sasikala also recalled the sustained efforts by Jayalalithaa in ensuring Jallikattu was held in the state.
Photograph: PTI Photo