Traditional bull-taming sport kicked off in Tamil Nadu today (representational)
A 26-year-old man was gored to death on Friday at a Jallikattu festival in Tamil Nadu's Madurai district. Police reports say the man, who has been identified as Sridhar, was a bull tamer who died at the bull collection yard as he waited to get hold of a raging bull coming after taking on bull tamers on the arena.
Many blame it on safety lapses at the end point even as a high court appointed retired high court judge monitored the event.
At least 29 others suffered injuries at the event in Alanganallur, a panchayat town widely seen as the capital of Jallikattu centres in the state, where 700 bulls and 800 tamers had registered to participate.
Jallikattu, a traditional bull-taming event, is organised every year as part of the harvest festival Pongal. This year's edition kicked off across the state on Wednesday morning and will run till January 31.
Also on Wednesday 32 people were injured in Madurai City, at Avaniapuram four people suffered serious injuries and were shifted to a government-run hospital.
Jallikattu was banned by the Supreme Court before massive protests in Chennai led to it being lifted
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court turned down a petition challenging a Madras High Court order that allowed Jallikattu to be conducted in the state. The top court directed the petition to approach the Chennai Bench of the High Court instead.
In 2014, the top court had banned the event after a plea filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
However, the state government insisted Jallikattu was a crucial part of its culture and identity.
The ban was lifted in January 2017 and the law amended after massive protests in Chennai.
Although there are systems in place to check treatment of the bulls and ensure safety of participants and spectators, activists allege that animal cruelty still continues.
People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA ) today released a compilation of videos it claims filmed in 2019 showing a series of animal cruelty including bulls being poked by metallic spears, tail being twisted and bitten, nose strings of bulls being violently pulled leading to bleeding nostrils, bulls pulled by tail and multiple tamers pulling the tail of a bull. PETA's India CEO Dr. Manilal Valliyateo told NDTV: "We would share our reports with Supreme Court as well as with Tamil Nadu government asking them to repeal the law as it terribly fails humans and animals from injuries and death."
Madurai Collector Dr T G Vinay told NDTV "We've taken safety measures to a new high this time along the arena. However now we see there is scope to improve safety at the end point. These charged animals run without nose strings and hence difficult to catch them. For each bull four to five people come and with public too joining there is a large jeering crowd which impacts these bulls".
People have been gored to death in past event as well. Over 200 people - both tamers and spectators - have lost their lives in the last two decades.
With input from PTI