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Tamil Nadu: Jallikattu makes its comeback as a championship

Jallikattu is a dangerous sport that is played by the people of Tamil Nadu. The traditional sport makes a grand come back. Here are the details.

The bulls are back in the ring and it’s not just in the heartland. A year after it took the city by storm, the jallikattu jamboree is set to return as an Indian Premiere League-styled league ahead of Pongal.

The competition is planned in a plot opposite the Madras Crocodile Bank on East Coast Road on January 7, announced organizers of the event, Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Peravai, and Chennai Jallikattu Amaipu, while unveiling the logo for the event on Thursday.

Around 500 youngsters from 17 districts across the state and an equal number of bulls have been selected to take part in the event. The free for all spectacle will be televised by Zee Tamizh on Mattu Pongal day, organizers said. “Majority of people in the northern Tamil Nadu, including Chennai, have not witnessed jallikattu, the sport of the valiant (Veera Vilayattu). Though thousands of students gathered on the Marina beach to demand a law allowing the sport to be held last January, not many had seen it,” said Rajmohan Arumugam, who hosted the programme.

The participants would be divided into five groups and would have to go through three rounds. In each round around 20 bulls would be released into the playing area and a team would be eliminated after each round. A sizeable prize would be given to the winners, both men, and bulls. More details about the event would be announced later.

Though the Supreme Court is hearing a case challenging the law which allowed the conduct of the sport in the state, organizers said the government has given permission for the event and also backed it. They also indicated that bulls belonging to MPs and MLAs might also participate in the event. Hinting at strong political patronage, they said that influential people will be inaugurating the event but the names couldn’t be made public due to the model code of conduct in place for the R K Nagar bypolls

Allaying fears about how the sport would be regulated, organizers assured the availability of medical facilities for the bulls and the participants on the ground, apart from arrangements for adequate rest for the cattle when they were being brought from Madurai, Salem and other parts of the state.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will have a Constitution Bench examine whether the people of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra can conserve jallikattu and bullock-cart races as their cultural right and demand their protection under Article 29 (1) of the Constitution.

A two-judge Special Bench was hearing a batch of petitions, led by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), to quash the new jallikattu law passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly which brought bulls back into the fold of “performing animals.”

Article 29 (1) is a fundamental right guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution to protect the educational and cultural rights of citizens.

Though commonly used to protect the interests of minorities, Article 29 (1) mandates that “any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.”

“It has never been looked into whether a State can claim constitutional protection under Article 29 (1) for what it thinks is a cultural right,” Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra observed.

“This may have a far-reaching effect. So far, nobody has plumbed the depths of Article 29 (1),” Justice Nariman said.

Justice Nariman referred to the part of Article 29 (1) which says “any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India.” “And Tamil Nadu is definitely a part of India,” Justice Nariman remarked orally.


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