Chennai: As expected, the Jallikattu agitation is further spreading in Chennai and elsewhere in Tamil Nadu. Hundreds of thousands of people, mostly young people are camping at the famed Marina beach. The youth, most of whom are boys and girls from different colleges, are demanding that Jallikattu be allowed during the Onam festival as has been the tradition for the last more than two thousand years.
As the Supreme Court was unwilling to come to the rescue of the state’s close to 78 million people who are demanding the sport of Jallikattu, to be allowed this year, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam may meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He has said that he will meet Modi and request him to issue an ordinance to allow Jallikattu. Nonetheless it is not yet clear as to whether the Prime Minister will be willing to extend a helping hand to him.
Earlier today, the chief minister had asked the agitating students who have been camping at the Mariana Beach here to end the mass protest. Nonetheless, there is no sign of it ending now. On the contrary, the size of the agitation has only got bigger. The chief minister tried to reassure the crowds of student and youths that his government will take all steps to hold the traditional sport. But the appeal fell on deaf ears.
Reports suggest that the protestors comprised mostly members of various social media groups though it is also said that some non-governmental organisations (NGO) are extending silent support to the protests. The Marina turned into a sea of humanity as several thousand young men and women demanded not only an end to the ban on Jallikattu but also a ban on People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, which opposes the sport.
People claim that not a single bull has lost its live during Jallikattu, though more than 200 people have lost their lives since the year 2000. Support for the protesters grew, as students of SRM University here announced protest outside their institution. Similar protests have been reported at other places in Tamil Nadu.
In the meantime Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan claimed some organisations too are involved in the protests apart from bona fide students. Speaking to the media, some protestors voiced the demand for Jallikattu and also spoke against the central government and liberalisation of economy. They also demanded a ban on some multinational company products. In Jallikattu, a bull vaulter is expected to hang on to the animal’s hump for a stipulated distance or for a minimum of three jumps by the bull.
At the Marina, thousands braved hot weather conditions and initially found getting food difficult. But as appeals for food were posted on social media, food packets started arriving along with volunteers. “I have made several trips to the beach with food packets. We serve around 2,500 idilis per trip,” a volunteer said. Supply of water too was ensured throughout the day. Employees of information technology companies came out of their offices in solidarity with the protesters who refused to meet politicians who arrived at the beach to mollify them.
In the meantime DMK Working President and opposition leader M.K. Stalin urged Chief Minister Panneerselvam to meet the demonstrators and take immediate action for holding Jallikattu. The protesters got a boost when popular actor Vijay lent his support. “Law was not created to rob people of their tradition and rights but to protect it,” he said in a video message. “Jallikattu is every Tamilian’s identity. Those who are protesting against the ban on Jallikattu are united by the feeling that they are Tamilians but not out of compulsion or political pressure…I bow down to each and everyone of them,” Vijay said. “I’d be really happy if those arrested are released immediately.” In the meantime protests are spreading to other areas of state including Coimbatore etc.