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Jallikattu Ban: Sea of Protesters at Marina Beach Want Bull-taming Sport Back

In Jallikattu, a bull vaulter is expected to hang on to the animal's hump for a stipulated distance or hold on to the hump for a minimum of three jumps made by the bull.

Updated:January 18, 2017, 5:45 PM IST

Chennai: Thousands of protesters, mostly youth, have gathered at Marina Beach in Chennai demanding the removal of ban on Jallikattu — Tamil Nadu's bull-taming sport after talks with the government officials failed on Tuesday.

The number of protesters grew after talks which began with government officials on Tuesday and continued into the night failed to build a consensus on whether the festival could be held.

The protesters also sought the banning of animal rights group PETA after it issued a statement that said the purpose of this festival is to thank the nature which cannot be achieved by tormenting bulls and causing injuries and deaths to people and bulls.

ALSO READ: Jallikattu is Not Just Bull, It's Also About Animal Spirits

On Tuesday, protesters began assembling outside Marina beach after hearing the news regarding the arrest of Jallikattu protestors in Alanganallur in Madurai district.

Despite police disconnecting the power supply at Marina Beach, the protestors continued their protest with the help of their mobile phone lights in the night.

There are reports that this mass protest has the backing of political parties through social media. However, political parties say there is no political agenda behind this mass protest.

CR Saraswathi, spokesperson of the AIADMK, said this was “a people's issue and not a political one”. "It is not a political issue. Our ministers have already spoken with the protesters. The government will give a statement on the issue. Everyone wants Jallikattu to be conducted. Even our late chief minister wanted Jallikattu to be conducted,” she said.

ALSO READ: Vijay, Suriya, Ashwin and Other Celebrities Lead Charge for Jallikattu

DMK’s Manu Sundaram appreciated the “efforts of the protesters” and believes that the central government cannot ignore the mass protest and will be pressed into taking action.

He further said, "Students, young professionals and families have been protesting at the Marina Beach for two days straight. Thanks to them, Jallikattu issue is not forgotten even though Pongal has passed. I have no doubt that the state and Union governments will be forced to take notice of sheer strength and tenacity of the support for Jallikattu."

Political analyst RK Radhakrishnan claims that this is the first mass protest by students in about half a century. "The last time a protest of this scale was after MGR's ouster from the DMK in 1972. A serious student agitation for Eelam in 1983 fizzled out after the central and state governments tactfully handled it. This is a spontaneous agitation sans a unified leadership. This is the reflection of a young people looking for hope, and asserting the fact that they matter in Tamil Nadu," he adds

Several big names from Tamil Nadu, particularly its film industry, have also come out in support of holding the sport.

"Law was not created to rob people off their tradition and rights but to protect it. 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 every one of them," actor Vijay said in a video message. "I'd be really happy if those arrested are released immediately," he said.

Actor Suriya lashed out at animal rights advocacy group PETA, which is aggressively campaigning against Jallikattu. "It's in the people's court. This is for the people, by the people. Youngsters have come out without any instigation. This is a people's movement," he said.

Actor Vijay said: “I salute every single protester who have come together irrespective of politics party or other differences.”

Actor G.V Prakash, singer-lyricist Arunraja Kamaraj and filmmaker Karthik Subbaraj joined supporters on ground on Tuesday.

While Prakash and Arunraja are observing silent protest against the arrest of those in Alanganallur in Marina beach here, Karthik is leading the crowd in Madurai.

DMK Working President and Leader of Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly MK Stalin condemned the arrests in Alanganallur in Madurai district as it prevented food and water supplies from reaching the protesters. He also termed the AIADMK rule in the state as "draconian".

DMK leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi said, “Yes, these people (protesters) may have not played Jallikattu, but you don’t have to be a sportsperson to support a sport.”

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