Jallikattu Issue: Rights vs Cruelty
Jallikattu Issue: Rights vs Cruelty. Opinion remains divided as to how animals have been used for food, clothing or experimentation of products and drugs by the human race for their own needs but their involvement with our entertainment industry for fulfilling rituals during century-old traditions seems to have been overlooked. Jallikattu is a part of Pongal festival which is practised in various districts of Tamil Nadu. This sport is also known as “Manju Virattu” meaning “Chasing the bull”. The fighters who take part in Jallikattu have to pounce on the raging bull and endeavour to hold on to its hump and move along with the bull without falling or getting hurt. The locals who practice this tradition believe it to be for a divine purpose and if they do not practice it, their village would be in danger of being affected by an epidemic. The bulls are agitated before the event by poking them with sticks, stabbing them intermittently before getting prodded and pushed by numerous people.
It is acceptable to use animals for sport or entertainment as long as animals are not harmed. To petrify and harm bulls in this disgraceful travesty of a “sport” is an abuse of animals. Bloodsports must be prohibited as no civilized society should allow the pain and suffering of animals simply to follow traditions set by their ancestors or simply for fun. By allowing Jallikattu to continue, Tamil Nadu ignored the country’s animal-protection laws and the safety of its own people as it chose to cling on to the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act No. 27 of 2009, which is a state law that though makes provisions to reduce cruelty to animals by setting up barricades and limiting the number of participants, but in the end it does permit Jallikattu. copyright
In a comprehensive investigation authorized by the Animal Welfare Board of India, investigators observed that majority of the bulls who were involved in this festival had their ears cut and this procedure leads to physiological, neuroendocrine and behavioural changes in the animal. The supreme court found that this was a violation of section 11(1)(l), The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 which prohibits the mutilation of an animal’s body. Many bulls suffered from dislocated or amputated tails. Bulls were forced to stand together on accumulated waste for hours together. Frequent urination and defecation were factors of fear and pain in cattle. This is a violation of section 11(1)(a) of the Act, which prohibits treating any animal in a way that causes unnecessary pain or suffering. Irritant solutions were rubbed into the eyes and ears of the bulls in order to agitate them which violates section 11(1)(c), which prohibits the willful and unreasonable administration of any injurious drug or substance to any animal. All bulls are not offered food, water or shelter from the inception till the culmination of the festival, this eventually resulted in injuries and death of some bulls.
Animal activists like the Federation of India Animal Protection Agencies and PETA have protested against the practice for several years and filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India to ban Jallikattu due to the cruelty towards animals and also to avoid injuries and deaths to the public. Finally, on 12th January 2016, the Honourable Supreme Court of India passed a landmark judgment clarifying that the bulls must not be used in Jallikattu, bull races, bullfights or any type of performance in India or any part of India.
Rights cannot be distributed on account of every living being’s ability to think, else intelligence tests would have to be carried out to determine as to who is capable of having rights, this would mean that the newborn and the mentally disabled would not be entitled to any rights. American philosopher Tom Regan holds the view that animals are entitled to certain rights simply because they have a basic understanding of the world and some sense of what they want from it. Every living being, be it a human or an animal has a right to live life freely without suffering or exploitation. Whatever may be the rationale, cruelty cannot be hailed as tradition and continued.