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As Jallikattu Protests Swell, Tamil Nadu Looks At Legal Way Out

As Jallikattu Protests Swell, Tamil Nadu Looks At Legal Way Out

CHENNAI: After Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Thursday that he cannot use an ordinance or executive order to remove a ban on bull-taming festival Jallikattu, the AIADMK government is said to be considering bringing an ordinance under a state law to circumvent the ban. Mr Panneerselvam has extended his stay in Delhi to get legal opinion on his options as a protest by thousands of people at Chennai’s famous Marina Beach entered its third day. The protesters demand that Jallikattu be brought back to Tamil Nadu. The centre’s top lawyer, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told NDTV that Tamil Nadu can bring a new law or ordinance under sports, which is exclusively a state subject, to allow Jallikattu, keeping in mind the Supreme Court ban and imposing penalties to ensure bulls are not treated cruelly. Mr Rohatgi said Jallikattu is a local event and the state has the power to enact laws on local events. Mr Panneerselvam told reporters after his meeting with PM Modi on Thursday that the state government, along with the centre, would take steps to ensure that Jallikattu is held during the harvest festival of Pongal. The event hasn’t been held for three years since the Supreme Court banned it in 2014. PM Modi told Mr Panneerselvam that while the centre appreciates the cultural significance of Jallikattu, it cannot intervene as the matter is being heard by the Supreme Court. But, the PM said, “The centre would be supportive of steps taken by the state government.” The Chennai protests, completely peaceful so far, are set to escalate on Friday with film stars, transporters, traders and lawyers joining it. Businesses, cinemas and schools will be closed on Friday and buses, autorickshaws and taxis will be off the roads. The Chennai protesters say they will not leave the Marina Beach till the government announces how it will ensure that the Jallikattu ban is lifted. Many have spent the last two days at the beach and the crowds grew all through the day on Thursday. The protesters, who include young students and professionals, say their fight is for their culture and Tamil pride and reject the allegation that Jallikattu is cruel to the bulls. Animal rights activists allege that the organisers of Jallikattu drug the bulls to make them unsteady and throw chilli powder in their faces to agitate them as they are released from a holding pen. PETA has said if the centre brings an ordinance to allow Jallikattu, it will challenge it legally. The Supreme Court had banned Jallikattu in 2014 on a petition by animal rights activists who say the centuries-old festival is cruel to bulls. The court later rejected a Tamil Nadu petition seeking a review of its decision and last year also stayed a notification by the centre allowing Jallikattu. It has finished hearing that case and will give verdict soon.

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