Bengaluru/Chennai: Tamil Nadu continued to be on the edge on Thursday as mass protests continued for a fourth day against Supreme Court’s ban on Jallikattu, a traditional bull-taming sport.
For the fourth day running, slogan-shouting and placard-waving demonstrators thronged the streets near Chennai’s Marina Beach, and other parts of the state, especially after it became known that a morning meeting between chief minister O. Panneerselvam and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not made any significant progress on lifting the ban.
Modi virtually indicated his government’s inability to promulgate an ordinance on allowing jallikattu, noting that the matter was sub judice.
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The Supreme Court too refused to intervene in the matter on Thursday. A bench headed by chief justice J.S. Khehar declined to hear a plea seeking a central ordinance to allow jallikattu.
Meanwhile, the state government indicated that it will soon take steps, with the backing of the centre, for holding jallikattu in Tamil Nadu. However, it did not specify how the ban would be skirted.
“We will soon take steps with the backing of the Centre for the holding the sport. You will soon see (the steps). All is well that ends well. Wait, good will happen," Panneerselvam told reporters after his meeting with Modi.
The protesters claim that jallikattu is much more than a sporting activity during Pongal, and associate it with regional identity and culture.
Jallikattu has been disallowed since 2014 following a Supreme Court order, on grounds of cruelty to animals.
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A similar debate took place in January 2016, when a notification from the environment ministry gave conditional approval for the sport, but was promptly struck down by the apex court.
This year, the popular sentiment against the Jallikattu ban has found wide resonance and kickstarted a polarizing debate as political parties, students, celebrities, filmstars, among others, have thrown their weight behind the issue.
The administration seems baffled about how to end what looks like an apolitical mass movement which only seems to be growing with every passing day.
Friday will see the agitation entering another level, as advocates’ associations have decided to stay away from courts, a popular union of cinema workers has announced a hunger strike and a section of hotels, shops and public transportation is planning to shut operations in Chennai.
While demonstrators so far have outrightly disallowed mainstream political parties to take centre stage, analysts say that the protesters clearly have the tacit support of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).