Pongal is over and yet, massive protests continue throughout Tamil Nadu over the jallikattu issue. Young people mostly college students and IT employees have gathered in large numbers for the fourth day demanding that the jallikattu ban be lifted and the animal welfare NGO, PETA, be banned instead.
The ban ordered by the Supreme Court is a result of a petition filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India, PETA and others who claim that the traditional sport violates the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Tamils on the other hand see it as an integral part of cultural identity. Apart from Chennai, in places like Alanganallur, Coimabtore, Trichy, Salem and Nagercoil as well, protests have continued unabated. The Hindu reported –
The protests became more organised with the setting up of loud speakers and volunteers from Alanganallur and nearby villages ensuring regular supply of water and food. Earlier in the day, the protesters announced that no celebrities or politicians would be allowed to address the protesters but they could instead participate as individuals. No political party will be allowed to stake a claim to the protests, the organisers said.
Puthiya Thalaimurai’s report from the first day of the Alanganallur protests has visuals of the large crowd gathered at the Vaadivasal where the jallikattu usually takes place. Farmer’s leader P.R Pandian, Rajashekar from an organisation called Jallikattua Peravai, and music director Adi also known as Hip Hop Tamizha, participated in the protest. During this time, sloganeering became louder and many broke barricades leading to some minor clashes with the police. According to the reporter, the crowd gathered for the protest was much bigger than the crowds that usually gather for jallikattu.
In Chennai, thousands of students have been staying at the Marina beach to protest the jallikattu ban. Over the past few days, students from several colleges protested outside their campuses, took out spontaneous marches on the city’s main roads. Employees of IT companies came out of their offices on Old Mahabalipuram Road, Porur and other places to join in the protest.
near shut down with several transport unions’ including autos and taxis declared that services would be stopped. Similarly, the shops, hotels and other commercial establishments were also shut from dawn to dusk.
The News Minute reported that the protests in Marina were being carried out in a peaceful and responsible way. Many people have come forward to provide food and water for protestors who have been camped out for several days.
The Nadigar Sangam announced a silent protest in support of the youngsters on the ground. However, this became a subject of much criticism as many accused them of trying to steal the spotlight. Following this, the President of the association, Nasser, appealed to the media not to cover the actor’s demonstration, but to focus on the youngsters instead.
The Times of India reported –
The memes doing the rounds of Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Twitter have been particularly toxic with photoshopped images of the women activists, holding bottles of alcohol and cigarettes. PETA CEO Joshipura and Trisha de-activated their Twitter and Facebook accounts within hours of being at the receiving end of this backlash.
Anger against the State and the Central government
Social media has been filled with memes and cartoons taking a dig at the Chief Minister O.Paneerselvam as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
O.Paneerselvam along with secretaries including Sheela Balakrishnan met the Prime Minister in Delhi. The Chief Minister in a press conference held soon after the meeting said that a memorandum was submitted to Prime Minister three days ago regarding the jallikattu issue and prevailing drought due to failure of the monsoons which has led to a loss of Rs.39565 crores. Following this the Prime Minister had given the Chief Minister an appointment yesterday. OPS said -
Prime Minister listened to the demands with humility and expressed his respect and understanding of the sentiments of the tamil people. He said that since the matter was still pending in the Supreme Court, the central government would support any decision taken by the state in this regard. I want to assure that along with the centre, we will take necessary action to ensure that jallikattu continues. You will able to see that actions that the state government will take very soon.
When Red Pix interviewed the protestors to get their reactions to the meeting, the anger was evident.
Several people said that both the centre and the state had no respect for the wishes of the people. One woman said that we do not need such a Prime Minister and a Chief Minister, as they do not understand what people want.
Opposition parties including the DMK and PMK, among others have used this opportunity to gain political mileage. The DMK held a rail rokko at several places today.
M.K Stalin and others blocked trains in Mambalam station while Kanimozhi and Dayanidhi Maran led the protests at Egmore Railway Station. They were taken away by the police soon after. Pattali Makkal Katchi’s Anbumani Ramadoss was arrested for holding a demonstration in New Delhi. He announced that if an ordinance was not passed, the PMK would hold jallikattu and manjuvirattu on republic day and was ready to face the consequences for breaking the law. He said that the Chief Minister’s meeting with Modi was merely an eye wash and that an all party meeting ought to have been called.
Could the ordinance be a sustainable solution?
In an attempt to appease protestors, AIADMK MLAs met with the Home Minister today.
AIADMK MPs meet Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to lift Jallikattu ban.— AIADMK (@AIADMKOfficial) January 20, 2017
We had come to urge the Home Minister to take steps for promulgation of ordinance in support of Jallikattu - Deputy Speaker M.Thambi Durai.— AIADMK (@AIADMKOfficial) January 20, 2017
While the Chief Minister announced that an ordinance has been drafted a sent to the Home Ministry for recommendations, opinions are divided if this will be a possible solution. According to CNN-News 18’s Ashok Bhagriya, an ordinance would amount to overriding the judicial process. The Centre would therefore not pass an ordinance before the Supreme Court verdict as it could easily be struck down.
Jallikattu will happen in Tamil Nadu in a couple of days - Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M. Thambi Durai.— AIADMK (@AIADMKOfficial) January 20, 2017
The News Minute provides some insight. Since the matter would be on the concurrent list, legally any law in the centre automatically takes precedence over the state. However, lawyer P.S Raman feels that it is worth a try -
It is plausible for the state to convince the court that the state government, in passing the ordinance, has not incidentally occupied the legal authority of the central govt, if it chooses to pass the ordinance clearly stating that jallikattu is a sport,” he said.Since sports come under the state list in Schedule 7 of the Constitution, the state government has exclusive power to make laws for the subject.
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