The popular bull-taming Jallikattu event entered its third and final day as it kicked off in Alanganallur area of Madurai in Tamil Nadu this morning amid concerns over animal cruelty as well as the pandemic.
A police official who was on duty has been injured after a bull charged at him. He was rushed to the hospital and his condition is now said to be stable, officials said.
The event, that started in Avaniyapuram on January 14, had earlier left one man dead and about 80 people, including tamers, bull owners and spectators, injured.
Jallikattu, one of the ancient sports played as a part of the harvest festival, Pongal, is a three-day event held in Alanganallur, Palamedu, Avaniyapuram in Madurai district. It is a traditional event in which a bull is released into a crowd of bull tamers, and multiple people attempt to grab the large hump on the bull's back trying to tame it.
Amid the pandemic, the state government has allowed the event to be held with restrictions -- only 300 bull tamers and 150 spectators or 50 per cent of the seating capacity (whichever is lower) have been permitted. All the participants are also required to carry their full vaccination certificate and a negative RT-PCR test report not older than 48 hours.
However, today's finale saw the participation of at least 515 bull tamers while 1,050 bulls have been brought for the day-long sport.
Officials said the bull tamers would be permitted to participate in small batches.
On Friday, a 19-year-old was killed by a raging bull at the Avaniyapuram Jallikattu festival.
Jallikattu has been controversial because of allegations of animal cruelty. The Supreme Court in 2014 had banned the bull-taming sport following petitions by the Animal Welfare Board of India and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The state government, however, argued that Jallikattu was crucial to Tamil Nadu's culture and identity and the ban was removed in 2017 with an amendment to the law after massive protests in Chennai.
The event this year is being held even as Tamil Nadu has been witnessing a rise in coronavirus infections with 23,975 fresh cases being recorded on Sunday that pushed the active case count in the state to 1.42 lakh. Chennai's test positivity rate, meanwhile, climbed to 30.0 per cent, the highest in Tamil Nadu.