Moving swiftly, the Centre on Friday night cleared an ordinance on Jallikattu, paving the way for Tamil Nadu government to promulgate it in an effort to end the protests that have paralysed the state for the last four days.
Following up on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assurance to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, the Ministries of Home, Law and Environment vetted the state's draft ordinance and cleared the amendment that will denotify the bull from the list of "performing animals".
This will ensure that provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act will not apply to the bull.
The ordinance has been forwarded to the state government, a Home Ministry spokesman said. It has been sent without the need of referring it to the President of India.
Tamil Nadu Cabinet is expected to meet tomorrow morning to clear the ordinance and recommend it to the Governor Vidyasagar Rao for promulgation.
Rao, who is also Governor of Maharashtra, is reaching Chennai on Saturday morning.
Jallikattu bull-taming sport, an age-old annual event during Pongal is very popular in Tamil Nadu.
The Centre's move came as Tamil Nadu has been brought to a standstill by a shutdown and protests by students, youths and other sections demanding immediate staging of the traditional sport in Alanganallur, epicentre of Jallikattu, and other places.
The protesters have said they would not withdraw the agitation until the event is held.
Earlier, Panneerselvam, who stayed back in the national capital after his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, announced on Friday morning that the state government would issue an ordinance in a day or two to allow Jallikattu.
He said legal steps would be taken to remove "all obstacles" in the way of holding the sport.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on whom a large delegation of AIADMK MPs called, as also Environment Minister Anil Dave and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad gave assurances of early steps by the Centre to resolve the issue soon.
Parallely, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court that the Centre was in talks with Tamil Nadu to find a way out in the matter after which the court agreed not to pass judgement for a week on the Jallikattu issue.
With the Centre drawing flak, BJP sought to project that its government was actively engaged in resolving the issue.
The law minister said he has held discussions with BJP president Amit Shah on the issue, while Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan and Tamil Nadu BJP chief Tamilisai Soundarajan flanked Dave when he met the media.
Though political parties have been kept away from the 'youth uprising', main opposition party DMK staged state-wide rail roko agitation, with its Working President MK Stalin leading the protests by squatting on tracks in Mambalam.
Stalin and Kanimozhi besides many DMK workers were arrested. Stalin has also announced that he will observe a day long fast on Saturday.
The call for general strike by various trade unions including those affiliated to DMK and the Left parties besides section of traders bodies led to a shutdown with shops and business establishments downing shutters and schools and colleges remaining closed across the state.
The Tamil film industry expressed solidarity with Jallikattu supporters, with top actors and actresses joining a silent protest. Film shootings were suspended for the day.
Superstar Rajinikanth, actors Ajit Kumar, Surya, Siva Karthikeyan besides actress Trisha, who had faced flak from the pro-Jallikattu groups for her perceived opposition to the sport by reportedly being associated with PETA, joined the silent protest.
Autos and call taxis kept off the roads even as few government buses plied on the roads. Banking operations took a hit with workers taking part in protests. Employees of various IT companies held placards and banners with slogans against NGO People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Many inter and intra-state trains were fully and partially cancelled while some others were diverted. The suburban EMU services ran late.
In Chennai, all roads led to Marina beach with men and women, clad in black, besides children joining the protest that has transcended political and other differences.
Photograph: PTI Photo