In early 2019, observers attended seven jallikattu events in the following locations: Alanganallur, Avaniapuram, and Palamedu in Madurai district; Keelapanaiyur and Viralimalai in Pudukkottai district; Ulagampatti in Dindigul district; and Alagumalai in Tiruppur district.
The eyewitnesses confirmed that this violent pastime takes advantage of bulls’ natural uneasiness as prey animals by deliberately placing them in a terrifying situation in which they’re prompted to run away from those they rightly perceive as a threat. The evidence – in the form of photographs and video footage – demonstrates that bulls are poked and jabbed with sticks and sickles, hit, jumped on, tackled, bitten, and otherwise mistreated.
Exhausted and dehydrated animals were forced to participate in jallikattu after standing in queues overnight – for as long as 16 hours – without adequate shelter or sufficient water or feed. They were yanked roughly by nose ropes, causing their nostrils to bleed, and many collapsed from exhaustion and dehydration after the events.
State Law Fails to Protect Bulls
The mental and physical torture bulls are subjected to are in apparent direct violation of many regulations.
India’s Supreme Court banned jallikattu in May 2014, upholding the Constitution, which mandates that every Indian citizen have compassion for animals. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, enacted by the central government, makes it illegal to cause animals unnecessary suffering. The PCA (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act came into effect in January 2017, and the state government also devised corresponding rules regarding the conduct of jallikattu events in Tamil Nadu – but they fail to protect bulls and humans.
In January 2018, the AWBI issued guidelines for the conduct of jallikattu events and shared them with Tamil Nadu officials, advising them to share the guidelines in turn with authorities throughout the state.
Rules listed under the Tamil Nadu PCA (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules, 2017, and the AWBI’s 2018 guidelines are brazenly violated.
Exacerbating the problem is the fact that none of the regulations hold jallikattu organisers or bull abusers suitably accountable or liable for punishment. This loophole in the legislation gives them a free pass to continue abusing bulls and putting humans in harm’s way.
The documented findings and evidence of abuse prove that no amount of regulation can prevent cruelty to bulls during jallikattu events.
It’s not hard to see that bulls used for jallikattu don’t race for fun. The spectacle relies on physical and psychological abuse to instigate bulls – who are naturally nervous prey animals and not anatomically suited to running – to spar or race. The Supreme Court upheld a ban on jallikattu, bull races, and the use of bulls in performances like circuses because all are inherently cruel to animals. All one has to do is look at photographs or videos from jallikattu events to understand how vicious the practice is. Shouting mobs of participants beat, bite, and whip bulls so that the animals sprint to escape the violence – and spectators often hit them as they flee, too.
Overwhelming evidence proves that regulation can’t prevent cruelty to bulls during jallikattu or prevent injury or death to humans who participate. Since the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act was passed, at least 57 humans (including 37 spectators and 20 tamers), 22 bulls, and one cow have been killed during these events.
Deliberately tormenting bulls – who are nervous prey animals – is inhumane. During jallikattu events, participants poke and jab bulls with sticks and sickles and stab, hit, bite, jump on, and tackle them. Many bulls sustain broken bones and severe injuries, collapse from exhaustion and dehydration, and even die. The Supreme Court recognises that using them for spectacles like jallikattu and races – forcing bulls to run for their lives by frightening and hurting them – is inherently cruel, and it rightfully upheld a ban on their use in performances in 2014. Yet the torture and abuse continue to this day, despite a public outcry, animal protection laws, and the threat to both animal and human safety.
Don’t believe it? Check out the photos below:
Injuries and Deaths
Jallikattu events lead to severe injuries, including broken bones, and even to the deaths of humans as well as bulls. At least 57 humans, including 37 spectators and 20 tamers; 22 bulls; and one cow have been killed since jallikattu was permitted again under the PCA (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017. The actual numbers are likely higher. News reports may not cover the eventual human deaths resulting from injuries sustained during the events, and they certainly don’t always cover what bulls endure.
Jallikattu Must End
Tamil Nadu state law cannot negate the fundamental cruelty of deliberately tormenting bulls. Those who are pushed, hit, prodded, or otherwise abused during jallikattu suffer mentally as well as physically. The ban on jallikattu must be reinstated in order to prevent bulls from enduring cruelty and dying as well as to protect humans from injury and death.