Thirty-two people have been injured as bulls targeted tamers and spectators at massive Jallikattu event in Tamil Nadu's Madurai city today. The traditional bull-taming sport event, which is organised as a part of harvest festival Pongal, kicked off this morning.
Four of them, who suffered serious injuries, have been shifted to Madurai Government Hospital, said officials.
More than 2,000 bulls will participate in the event which will be held in Madurai district alone over the next two days and several thousand others in the state till January 31.
Earlier today, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a petition challenging the Madras High Court order for conducting Jallikattu in various districts of the state. The top court has asked the petitioner - a farmer AK Kannan - to approach the Chennai Bench of Madras High Court and dismissed the plea. He had demanded that the event must be conducted under the supervision of the district collector.
In 2014, the top court had banned the traditional bull-taming sport after a plea was filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) but the state government insisted that Jallikattu was a crucial part of its culture and identity. The ban was later lifted in January 2017 with an amendment to the law after massive protests in Chennai.
Though the state government has put in place systems to check animal cruelty and ensure the safety of spectators and bull tamers following the court orders, animal rights activists allege that animal cruelty still continues.
In past years too, competitors have been gored to death by bulls. More than two hundred people - both bull tamers and spectators - have lost their lives in the last two decades and several dozens maimed. However, organisers believe any ban on the traditional sport could wreak disaster.