In any valor sports, death and injuries are common. But a human loss is still a loss, particularly for the parents and relatives.
A 19-year-old man gored to death by a bull during a Jallikattu event in Madurai in Tamil Nadu on Monday. The police said the incident happened at the end of the bull taming enclosure, known as the ‘collection point’.
The deceased, Kalimuthu, was a participant in the first round of the event and was attacked by a bull at the collection point few minutes before the event concluded.
“Kalimuthu was out after his turn in the event and he was playing with the bull outside the arena in an open space when the bull attacked him,” Madurai collector Veera Raghava Rao told a national news channel. About 28 people were also injured during the event.
A rural sport played in the state, Jallikattu grabbed national attention only after last year’s massive protests.
The district administration had overlooked the arrangements and the event closely through the day and had deployed a dozen of medical and veterinary teams with ambulances at the venue. The ring and corridors through which the bulls ran out were barricaded to keep the non-participants at a distance and ensure public safety. Kalimuthu, who was injured when the bull’s horns pierced through him was taken to a nearby hospital but was declared brought dead.
About 700 tamers and 446 bulls had participated in today’s event amidst thousands of spectators, a dozen of medical and veterinary teams with ambulances and police personnel.
On Sunday, 704 bulls were screened and 643 were found fit to participate. And amongst the participants, 576 players were screened of 479 participated.
“Jallikattu is a tradition. It brings us all together. There are isolated incidents every year. There will be injuries during the event too. People come knowing that,” said Jayakumar, a bull owner.
So far, 79 people have injured during the event. The event is scheduled to continue for the third and final day in Alanganallur village on Tuesday where Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisami. Deputy Chief minister O Paneerselvam is also expected to attend.
Jallikattu is a sport that involves taming a bull. The bull is released into a crowd of people and the participants try to hold on to its hump or horns. The event is celebrated on Mattu Pongal, which is the third day of the popular harvest festival.
The tradition derives its name from the Tamil words “salli” which means coins and “kattu” which means package. This refers to the prize of coins that is tied to the horns of the bulls, which participants try to retrieve.
If the taming attempt is unsuccessful, the bull’s owner takes home the prize.
The Supreme Court had banned Jallikattu in 2014 after animal rights activists said it constitutes extreme animal cruelty. After massive protests, Tamil Nadu enacted a law last year to bypass the apex court’s ruling.
Reacting to the news of the tragic death, animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi called Jallikattu barbaric and demanded that it must be stopped.
“It is not an accident. This is a state-sponsored barbarism which is taking its own people’s lives and now the government and event organizers have blood on their hands. History has repeated itself. Such an incident has happened before in Madurai earlier. It’s high time to stop this barbaric culture in the name of Tamil pride,” she said.