The new Jallikattu guidelines issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) for this season’s bull races want the event videotaped and place restrictions on the timing of the event and the age of the bull calves associated with the controversial sport.
Races should be held between 9am and 5pm, bulls should be between the ages of three and 15 years, and all bulls, bullocks, bull owners, participants will all have to be insured, say the new guidelines, which build on those issued by the Tamil Nadu government.
The guidelines are not mandatory but not following them can be construed as animal abuse and be punishable under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act. “It is a very sensitive issue, we will not tolerate violations of the (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Act,” SP Gupta, chairperson of the AWBI, said. “At the same time, we do not want to hurt the sentiments of the people.”
The AWBI is in touch with the district administration officials and will form inspection teams that will visit the venues of every race. The teams will videotape the events and make sure the new guidelines are followed.
In a landmark 2014 judgment, the apex court banned the use of bulls in races, while hearing a petition against Jallikattu, noting that “use of bulls in such events severely harmed the animals and constituted an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to the Animals Act”. States have the power to enact laws on the subject as long as they do not violate central laws. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, prohibits the use of animals for entertainment or display. However, “performance animals,” are exempt.
Activists, however, are not convinced the guidelines will help. “In 2017, 15 people and seven bulls died in so-called ‘regulated’ jallikattu events,” Nikunj Sharma, public policy lead at PETA India, said.
Date : 08 Jan 2018