India

Jallikattu: India order to allow Tamil Nadu bullfighting challenged

All eyes on the bull - contestants at a Jallikattu contest in Tamil Nadu (file photo) Image copyright J Suresh
Image caption Animal rights activists says Jallikattu is a "cruel sport"

Animal rights activists in India have challenged a government order lifting a ban on Jallikattu, a form of bull fighting which has been popular for centuries in the state of Tamil Nadu.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the petition on Tuesday.

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.

In its order, 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 Animals Act, but last Friday the government issued an order lifting the ban.

The sport is due to resume this month, after no events were held last year.

Image copyright J Suresh
Image caption Jallikattu is more than 2,000 years old and considered to be one of the oldest sports still practised in the modern era

But on Monday, the Animal Welfare Board of India, animal rights groups and activists filed six petitions in the court, challenging the "cruel sport".

"We have petitioned the Supreme Court to immediately quash the government order," one of the petitioners, Gauri Maulekhi of People for Animals, told the BBC.

"The government order is against every law and ethic, it is a politically-motivated, people-pleasing exercise," she said.

In Jallikattu, bulls are released from pens, with bullfighters 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.

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