India

Jallikattu: India lifts ban on bullfighting in Tamil Nadu

Jallikattu contest in Tamil Nadu (file photo) Image copyright J Suresh
Image caption Over the years, scores of people have been gored or trampled to death during Jallikattu

The Indian government has lifted a ban on Jallikattu, a version of bull fighting which has been popular for thousands of years in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

At the annual festival held in January, thousands of men chase the bulls to grab prizes tied to their horns.

The Supreme Court imposed the ban in 2014 following objections from animal rights activists.

The sport will resume this month, after no events were held last year.

While imposing the ban, the Supreme Court had said that use of bulls in the sport "severely harmed" the animals and was an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to the Animals Act.

The Animal Welfare Board of India has said they will challenge the government order that lifted the ban.

"We are hoping to make a mention today itself before the court. We anticipated this. We are surprised that the Centre [federal government] is ready to diminish the stature of a Supreme Court order so brazenly," The Hindu quoted an official as saying.

India's Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar issued a notification announcing the lifting of the ban on Thursday.

"Such event shall take place in any district, where it is being traditionally held annually, at such place explicitly permitted by the district collector or the district magistrate, bullock cart race shall be organised on a proper track, which shall not exceed 2km," The Times of India reported.

Image copyright J Suresh
Image caption Bullfighters are supposed to hold on to the animals hump for about 15-20 metres or three jumps of the bull to win the prize.

"In case of Jallikattu, the moment the bull leaves the enclosure, it shall be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metre," the notification added.

Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping and BJP MP from Tamil Nadu, Pon Radhakrishnan, tweeted thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Javadekar.

In Jallikattu, the bull is released from the pen and bullfighters are supposed to hold on to the animals hump for about 15-20 metres or three jumps of the bull to win the prize.

The ban had been criticised by political parties and cultural organisations in the state who had argued that Jallikattu was a part of their cultural tradition.

Jallikattu is more than 2,000 years old and considered to be one of the oldest sports still practised in the modern era.

Over the years, scores of people have been gored or trampled to death in the contests.

Hundreds, including spectators, have been mauled or injured.

More on this story