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Why India bull-taming protest may not be just about bulls

  • 20 January 2017
  • From the sectionIndia
A bull about to attack a young contestant at a Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu (file photo)Image copyrightJ SURESH

Image captionThe sport is a 2,000-year-old tradition and a way of life with people

India, wrote author VS Naipaul, is a country of a million little mutinies, reeling with rage and revolt.

One such is now brewing in southern Tamil Nadu state, where people have been protesting against a ban on a traditional bull-taming contest, known as jallikattu. They say the ban is an attack on their culture and identity. Thousands of largely peaceful men and women – mostly students and workers – have been holding an unprecedented beachside protest in the capital, Chennai, since Tuesday. They have been sharing food and water, sleeping in the open, and cleaning up the beach in the morning. Until now, it has been a remarkable exhibition of responsible public dissent, largely free of invective and incendiary rhetoric, which usually mark protests like these.

Outside the capital, people have demonstrated at more than 150 places. There’s no let up in the momentum as the local government struggles to resolve the crisis: more than a million people are estimated to have protested across Tamil Nadu on Friday. Public transport has been affected; schools, colleges and businesses are shut. Oscar-winning music composer and Tamil Nadu’s most well-known celebrity, AR Rahman, has tweeted that he’s fasting in support. Cricket and movie stars have backed the movement. An overexcited newspaper report has even called it India’s Arab Spring. That may well be an exaggeration. But there is little doubt, as a journalist who is covering the protest says, that what began as small protests against the arrest of 200 young men opposing the ban last week has now snowballed into a “mass movement, leaderless and largely peaceful”.

Indian students shout slogans and hold placards during a demonstration against the ban on the Jallikattu bull taming ritual, and calling for a ban on animal rights organisation PETA, at Marina Beach at Chennai on January 19, 2017.Image copyrightAFP

Image captionThe protests have been spontaneous and without a leader

Thousands of sturdy, young men chase bulls – mostly owned by the temples – for prizes during jallikattu held during the harvest festival of Pongal in January. The animals are released from pens, with men supposed to hold on to the animal’s hump for about 15-20 metres or three jumps of the bull to win the prize. Animal rights activists, who support the ban, say the sport is cruel to animals. Nonsense, say the bull owners and supporters: the sport is a 2,000-year-old tradition and a way of life with people in large swathes of Tamil Nadu. They say the animals are, by and large, well looked after. Opinions diverge greatly on the subject. Federal minister Maneka Gandhi has called the festival a day of “violence and killing” where “boys jump on each one (bulls) and try to tear its horns off”. She wrote: “Everyone in India looks down upon it – as civilised people should.” Her comments have attracted a lot of flak. Shyam Krishnakumar, a research associate with Vision India Foundation, says: “This statement typifies a cosmopolitan elitism that considers itself to be modern and progressive and rural India to be backward and barbaric, in need of being saved. There is little effort taken to understand and sincerely engage with their lives and worldviews, there is merely the civilising mission to be force-fed to everyone, for their own good of course.”

‘Bull by the horns’

Activists and bull owners have fought in the courts over the fate of the sport for more than a decade. In 2014, the Supreme Court banned it – and last year upheld the ban after a fresh challenge. But the January protests – “taking the bull by the horns”, as my favourite headline says – is unrivalled in recent memory. They have been spontaneous and not led by any political party. They have cut across Tamil Nadu’s often fractious caste and class lines. Participants include students, info-tech professionals, factory workers, farmers, anti-nuclear activists, and many other ordinary folk. And the protests are no longer just about bulls. There are people angry with the recent currency ban and the shortage of cash and the controversial judicial ordermaking it compulsory to play the national anthem in theatres and for audiences to stand when it is being played. There are people who have protested against a nuclear plant in the state and against GM crops. There are irate drought-hit farmers who feel they are being deprived of their share of water from a river that their state shares with neighbouring Karnataka.

Indian students shout slogans and hold placards during a demonstration against the ban on the Jallikattu bull taming ritual, and calling for a ban on animal rights organisation PETA, at Marina Beach at Chennai on January 19, 2017.Image copyrightAFP

Image captionProtesters say the ban is an attack on Tamil tradition
A bull charges through a crow of Indian participants and bystanders during Jallikattu, an annual bull fighting ritual, on the outskirts of Madurai on January 15, 2017Image copyrightAFP

Image captionBull owners say that the animals are cared for

They share, say many, deeper anxieties about what they feel are assaults on local traditions and cultures by the federal government, judiciary and elites in Delhi. Many of them say they are resisting attempts at “homogenising” India by federal fiats. The protests, many say, represent an inchoate movement, almost like a harbinger of things to come. “Jallikattu is just a trigger. This huge protest is a manifestation of the trust deficit between Tamil people and the federal government and the judiciary,” says historian AR Venkatachalapathy. “They even distrust the media in Delhi which portrays Tamils as some exotic people with weird customs. Many don’t trust Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP government’s muscular nationalism and recent moves like the currency ban.” Like most uprisings, this is also likely to fizzle out as the authorities try to placate the protesters by bringing in temporary laws to allow the festival this year. But the protests mirror modern-day fears about globalisation and anxieties about loss of identity, living, and culture – and authorities who don’t care. ” says historian AR Venkatachalapathy. “They even distrust the media in Delhi which portrays Tamils as some exotic people with weird customs. Many don’t trust Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP govern, 000-year-old tradition and a way of life with people in large swathes of Tamil Nadu. They say the animals are, 000-year-old tradition and a way of life with people India, 2017.Image copyrightAFP Image caption Protesters say the ban is an attack on Tamil tradition A bull charges through a crow of Indian participants and bystanders during Jallikattu, 2017.Image copyrightAFP Image caption The protests have been spontaneous and without a leader Thousands of sturdy, 2017Image copyrightAFP Image caption Bull owners say that the animals are cared for They share, a research associate with Vision India Foundation, almost like a harbinger of things to come. “Jallikattu is just a trigger. This huge protest is a manifestation of the trust deficit between Tamil people and the federal government and the judiciary, an annual bull fighting ritual, and calling for a ban on animal rights organisation PETA, and cleaning up the beach in the morning. Until now, and culture – and authorities who don’t care., and many other ordinary folk. And the protests are no longer just about bulls. There are people angry with the recent currency ban and the shortage of cash and the controversial judicial order making, anti-nuclear activists, AR Rahman, as a journalist who is covering the protest says, as my favourite headline says – is unrivalled in recent memory. They have been spontaneous and not led by any political party. They have cut across Tamil Nadu’s often fractious caste and class lines., at Marina Beach at Chennai on January 19, by and large, Chennai, colleges and businesses are shut. Oscar-winning music composer and Tamil Nadu’s most well-known celebrity, deeper anxieties about what they feel are assaults on local traditions and cultures by the federal government, factory workers, farmers, for their own good of course.” ‘Bull by the horns’ Activists and bull owners have fought in the courts over the fate of the sport for more than a decade. In 2014, has tweeted that he’s fasting in support. Cricket and movie stars have backed the movement. An overexcited newspaper report has even called it India’s Arab Spring. That may well be an exaggeration. Bu, in need of being saved. There is little effort taken to understand and sincerely engage with their lives and worldviews, info-tech professionals, is a country of a million little mutinies, it has been a remarkable exhibition of responsible public dissent, judiciary and elites in Delhi. Many of them say they are resisting attempts at “homogenising” India by federal fiats. The protests, known as jallikattu. They say the ban is an attack on their culture and identity. Thousands of largely peaceful men and women – mostly students and workers – have been holding an unprecedented beachsi, largely free of invective and incendiary rhetoric, leaderless and largely peaceful”. Indian students shout slogans and hold placards during a demonstration against the ban on the Jallikattu bull taming ritual, living, many say, on the outskirts of Madurai on January 15, people have demonstrated at more than 150 places. There’s no let up in the momentum as the local government struggles to resolve the crisis: more than a million people are estimated to have protested, reeling with rage and revolt. One such is now brewing in southern Tamil Nadu state, represent an inchoate movement, say many, say the bull owners and supporters: the sport is a 2, say the sport is cruel to animals. Nonsense, says: “This statement typifies a cosmopolitan elitism that considers itself to be modern and progressive and rural India to be backward and barbaric, since Tuesday. They have been sharing food and water, sleeping in the open, Soutik Biswas India correspondent 20 January 2017 From the section India Share A bull about to attack a young contestant at a Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu (file photo)Image copyrightJ SURESH Image caption The sport is a 2, that what began as small protests against the arrest of 200 young men opposing the ban last week has now snowballed into a “mass movement, the Supreme Court banned it – and last year upheld the ban after a fresh challenge. But the January protests – “taking the bull by the horns”, there is merely the civilising mission to be force-fed to everyone, this is also likely to fizzle out as the authorities try to placate the protesters by bringing in temporary laws to allow the festival this year. But the protests mirror modern-day fears about globali, well looked after. Opinions diverge greatly on the subject. Federal minister Maneka Gandhi has called the festival a day of “violence and killing” where “boys jump on each one (bulls) and try to tear, where people have been protesting against a ban on a traditional bull-taming contest, which usually mark protests like these. The state that loves bullfighting but isn’t Spain Jallikattu: Why India bullfighting ban ‘threatens native breeds’ India court bans jallikattu bull fighting fes, who support the ban, with men supposed to hold on to the animal’s hump for about 15-20 metres or three jumps of the bull to win the prize. Animal rights activists, wrote author VS Naipaul, young men chase bulls – mostly owned by the temples – for prizes during jallikattu held during the harvest festival of Pongal in January. 

Social media comes in handy in coordinating Jallikattu stir

Chennai, Jan 19, 2017, (PTI)

For instance, a social media user Manikandan uploaded pictures of protest between Madurai and Theni in 'Jallikattu veeravilayattu' Facebook page. pti file photo
Social media appeared to have played a key role in bringing together thousands of pro-Jallikattu protesters to the sprawling Marina Beach here and other parts of Tamil Nadu, with updates on the ongoing students’ spontaneous stir and messages flooding the platform.

Sites including Facebook were awash with “Let us be united”, “We want Jallikattu,” and “I support Jallikattu” pages, which together account for lakhs of followers, who kept commenting on the evolving situation and pressing their cause.

Facebook pages like “Jallikattu veeravilayattu,” specially designed to spread messages on the bull-taming sport and protest across the state were active with live updates.

Special folk songs were uploaded and real time pictures, videos of protests were posted regularly which helped the information reach more and more people, prompting several of them to join hands.

For instance, a social media user Manikandan uploaded pictures of protest between Madurai and Theni in ‘Jallikattu veeravilayattu’ Facebook page.

A college student here, R Sukumar, said he joined the protests on the Marina Beach responding to a campaign in Facebook by several other students.

Balakumar Somu, in his Facebook post said, “I see protests in so many places, from the metros to small towns & villages. So happy to be a part of the enlightened Tamil youth @Tirupur (Collector’s office).”

Also, posts like “No Jallikattu, no vote” and “save native cattle” dominated social media sites.

Each Jallikattu protest and information related to it got thousands of “likes” on Facebook.
A blogger said, “Jallikattu is not bullfight…PeTA should stop equating the sport with bull fighting.”

In Twitter, hashtags like “justice for jallikattu,” “save our culture jallikattu” continued to trend through the day with countless messages.

Also, messages like “I can arrange dinner, lunch for protestors,” “I can provide drinking water please contact…” were also abound, indicating how the students were organising and managing the protests.

Jallikattu: Tug of war over bull-taming festival in Tamil Nadu continues

Trained bulls are lead through a restricted path; locals jump onto hump of bulls and try conquer it

Gireesh Babu  |  Chennai January 10, 2017 Last Updated at 17:38 IST

jallikattu, bull, bull fight
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

With Pongal, the biggest agriculture-related festival of being round the corner, the controversy on Jallikattu, a bull-taming sport celebrated in Pongal, has once again come to the fore.

 

What has been a tug of war between the traditional Tamil culture and a group of animal lovers, has also been intertwined with court cases and political discussions in the state and the centre.

 

The 2000-year-old traditional practice of taming a bull, which is linked with the cultural tradition of as a popular sport among warriors since the “Sangam era” finds a mention in the ancient Tamil text “Silapathigaram”.

 

The specially trained bulls are lead through a small gate to a restricted path, where the local lads try to conquer it by jumping and holding onto the hump of the bulls. Accidents, both minor and major, often occur as the panicked throngs its way through the gate into the crowd.

 

The State Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, describes the game as: “It is inextricably linked to rural, agrarian customs and has religious significance, with families donating bulls to temples in fulfilment of vows. also addresses the cause of conservation of native germplasm since bulls with excellent physical attributes are reared. Further, bulls are not harmed or physically tortured during Jallikattu”.

 

The government has now sought the central government to consider issuing an ordinance to enable people in the state to conduct Jallikattu.

 

This is at a time when animal lovers link the game with the fight in Spain, where the is brutally killed for the pleasure of the viewers. In a judgement on May 7, 2014, the Supreme Court of India, banned the conduct of in the State of and also held that bulls cannot be used as performing either for events or for bullock cart races in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country.

 

“The ban on has caused widespread resentment and general disappointment among the people of Tamil Nadu, particularly in rural areas, since is intertwined with religious and social cultural ethos of Tamil society,” says Panneerselvam.

 

The centre is against since allowing the game could be a political gain for the ruling party in the centre. In January 2015, the government of had requested Modi’s personal intervention to enable the conduct of events in by denotifying bulls from the list of performing in a notification dated July 11, 2011, issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.

 

The centre has also issued a notification on January 7, 2016, which was expected to enable the groups to conduct during Pongal, which falls in the middle of January.

 

However, it was stayed by the Supreme Court and the game was not conducted legally during these years, though in some places, people tried to conduct it without the approval of the administration.

 

A review petition was filed by the government of on May 19, 2015, and the Supreme Court refused to review its earlier judgement, dismissed the review petition on December 16, 2016.

 

The state government has now demanded that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, should clearly denotify bulls “as performing animals” from the notification issued on July 11, 2011, and suitably amend Section 11(3) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Act, 1960 by introducing a new clause in sub-section (3) of Section 11 specifically exempting in addition to other exemptions already provided in the Act.

 

The traditional game of has its own business nurtured over a period of time, Organisers and locals say the ban will have a direct impact on thousands of and his family, who depend on this breed cattle for livelihood. According to organisers, a can fetch as high as Rs 2 lakh to a farmer and it would cost about Rs 20 lakh in one major village.

 

had been organised in 24 places between January 14 and January 17 in Tamil Nadu. An event can raise upto Rs 15 lakh in a village apart from the prizes, said Balakumar Somu, one of the ardent follower of earlier. Somu, an IT professional quit a job in Singapore, relocated to Coimbatore and started a website supporting this sport.

 

According to him, a farmer invests around Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 to buy a calf and the entire family spends money and energy for 1.5 years to grow the calf into a healthy bull. They use as a platform to find a buyer and the bulls which wins can stretch around Rs 1.5-2 lakh to the owners.

 

The buyers, who are mainly rich people buy these bulls as a matter of pride, employee around 5-6 people to maintain it. The people who are employed, mostly women, get about Rs 800-900 per week as salary.

 

Thousands of artisans also get affected as in many villages, a major source of income has been creating decorative items, including specialised ropes for the bulls and for the race.

 

may be a three-day sports festival, but it has been the source of income for throughout the year, said Somu.

 

The organisers spend anywhere between Rs 50,000 and Rs 20 lakh to organise it depends on the village.

 

The money will be spent on preparing the ground for Jallikattu, deposit money, gifts including, motorcycles, gold coins, bicycles, steels almirahs and sheep and goats. The money is mobilised through sponsors and advertisers, most of them being local brands. These take space in t-shirts, which players wear on the ground and also merchandise including, coffee mugs, posters, coasters, pens, bedsheets.

 

This will also affect the special breeds used in Jallikattu, including the Kangeyam breed of bulls. Already, the number of Kangeyam bulls has come down from lakhs to tens of thousands.

 

“The banning of and the demand for banning of other rural sports like rekhla race will ultimately result in the vanishing of native species and ultimately result in the country turning into import dependent on bovine animals,” says Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, managing trustee, Senaapathy Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation (SKCRF).

 

The foundation breeds Kangayam bulls and cows and also works on the preservation of native breeds. According to him while the Kangayam cow costs around Rs 25,000-35,000 the is available for Rs 10,000 only.

 

Sivasenapathy said the population of Kangayam variety has come down to one lakh from 11 lakh in 1990. People with total disconnect with livestock, rural life or villages are ones who claim that do not love animals, whereas, farm are part of the rural household. He said cattle farming in India is part of the household activity and not a corporate activity.

Appreciating Nuance

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 Team MP |  14 Jan 2017 3:08 AM

On Thursday, the Supreme Court rejected a plea, seeking a judgment on the bull-taming/embracing (depending on which side of the debate one belongs to) sport of Jallikattu before Saturday. In other words, the practice will continue to be banned this Pongal if the Centre does not intervene and pass an ordinance. Jallikatu is a traditional rural event organised as part of the five-day Pongal celebrations, which begins on January 14 this year. Unlike in the bull-fighting event in Spain, the bull is not killed, and the object is to pluck bundles of money or gold tied to the animal’s sharpened horns. In 2014, the sport was banned by the Supreme Court following objections from animal rights activists, citing animal cruelty and a threat to public safety. Ever since the judgment, the court has been hearing petitions supporting this traditional event. Last July, the court had said Jallikattu might be 5,000 years old, but it was for the judiciary to decide whether the practice could continue. “We have to show compassion to the animals. It is our constitutional obligation,” it said. Reports indicate that the court’s position has angered many in the state of Tamil Nadu, who believe that a ban on tramples on not only their traditions but also effectively destroys entire native livestock breeds that depend on the event. On Wednesday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pass an ordinance to allow Jallikattu during the Pongal festival.
Animal welfare activists have long demanded a ban on the event/sport for the significant levels of cruelty and torture, the bull undergoes. In a column, Poorva Joshipura, the CEO of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, wrote: “During Jallikattu, bulls are deliberately terrified and forced into menacing crowds through various cruel means. They are purposefully disoriented through substances like alcohol; have their tails twisted and bitten; are stabbed and jabbed by sickles, spears, knives or sticks; have their nose ropes painfully yanked; are punched, jumped on and dragged to the ground.” In Jallikatu-like events across India, many humans also suffer severe injuries or even die from participating or watching the sport. In this decade, until the ban came into force, there were reportedly more than 1100 injuries and approximately 17 deaths, including that of a child. The apex court’s position on the subject is if culture or tradition is ‘not in sync with the law’, then the latter takes precedence.
Unlike the apex court, the Centre has taken a favourable position, arguing that Jallikattu is a centuries-old traditional practise.  The Centre respects these practices, although it has asked organisers to ensure that there is no cruelty. Animal welfare activists have mocked this position, but local activists against the ban have argued that the event is not about taming bulls, as much as embracing them. In a recent post on social media, Balakumar Somu, an animal’s rights activist from Coimbatore, who has started a website to fight the ban, wrote on the subject. “To honour those who bring up the stud bulls and to demonstrate the strength of the bulls annual sports of sorts are organised: one of these sports is Jallikattu. This is not taming the bull as is often misunderstood. It is actually embracing the bulls. The men should embrace the speeding bull and hold on to it as long as he can. In Spanish bullfights, the participating bulls are killed. But here in India, the bulls become much-celebrated beings of the village and the families,” he writes. Arguments citing animal cruelty are either over exaggerated or wholly fabricated, say supporters of the event. Himakiran Anugula, an organic farmer and entrepreneur, based in Chennai, presents ecological and economic reasons against the ban. In a recent post on a news website, he writes: “If Jallikattu is prohibited, livestock keepers will be forced to abandon the raising of native livestock, which already stands threatened due to the extensive use of motor pumps, tractors and mechanised agriculture. If the sport is banned, it would be the death knell of native cattle species in Tamil Nadu. We will lose not only our breeds but also our self-sufficiency in milk production as well as the promotion of organic farming. If we lose our breeds and import foreign breeds, multinational commercial companies will dominate the dairy industry in India. The livelihood of millions in rural India is at stake here. People who want a ban on Jallikattu are far removed from village life and do not know how this chain works.” Going by the arguments presented above, it would seem as if a complete ban on Jallikattu seems a tad unreasonable. If there are instances of animal cruelty, tighter regulations should be introduced and enforced to ensure their safety, as well for those people attending these events. Any attempt to ban such traditional practices often suffers from plenty of pushback from those directly affected. How does one enforce a ban, when the people and the entire state machinery stand opposed to the court’s diktat? Moreover, if animal cruelty is going to be cited to prohibit certain events or products, then our courts will have to go way beyond Jallikattu, starting with leather goods and fast food franchises. Will the court ban leather goods or McDonald burgers, as well?

Huge Youngster’s rally in Chennai calls for Central legislation allowing Jallikattu

The rally was organized by students and software professionals through campaigns on WhatsApp and Facebook.
TNM Staff| Sunday, January 8, 2017 – 15:16
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The Marina beach in Chennai was witness to a huge, and according to participants, a ‘spontaneous’ rally on Sunday morning as nearly 10,000 people gathered to ‘Save Jallikattu’, asking the Central and State government to do whatever in their means to allow the cultural tradition to continue this Pongal.

The rally was organized by a group of non-political and youth organizations. “There were thousands of students from colleges and IT professionals who had gathered. It was a spontaneous movement. No political party or big group organized this, it was a joint effort by people in the city, to call for help for farmers and bull-owners,” said Balakumar Somu of the Biodiversity Conservation Council of India, which was a participant in the rally and has been lobbying for pro-Jallikattu legislation in the past few years.

Other pro-Jallikattu organizations and groups also participated in the event, which gathered momentum predominantly through social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook.

Crowds stretched upto a kilometer long on the beach road in Marina and the event dominated Tamil news channels all morning, with channels beaming live and continuing the programming through the day.

As the festival of Pongal approaches, calls for Jallikattu to be allowed to happen are getting louder in the state. It is during the festival of Pongal that Jallikattu is usually held in several parts of Tamil Nadu.

“Bull Taming” is not just a sport, it is a part of the Indian identity which has been slowly weaned away from us, and today corporates and so-called animal lovers are teaming to put an end to this age-old tradition which has ensured that the best Indian breeds are carried forward and protected for future generations,” says TRB Rajaa, the MLA of Mannargudi, who participated in the rally in an independent capacity.

The Supreme Court of India banned the organizing of Jallikattu under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals act in 2014. Following this, ahead of the 2015 Pongal, the central government issued a notification creating an exception for religious sports like Jallikattu, thereby allowing them to happen. However, organizations like Animal Welfare Board of India and PETA got a stay order on the notification, in effect banning Jallikattu again. This case is now pending at the apex court.

“We cannot demand for a quick verdict from the courts. But we ask that the Centre issue an ordinance allowing Jallikattu again,” says Balakumar Somu, “they should delist the bull from the Performing Animals List. It is not a performing animal to be kept on the list.”

Participants feel that the state government could also pass an ordinance and get it signed by the Governor and the President of India. “But it is the Centre which is in the best position to make this happen,” Somu says.

Farmers associations across Tamil Nadu have expressed happiness with the rally. “We thank the youngsters in the city for organizing the event. Usually it is believed that people in the city don’t care about rural issues. They have showed that’s not the case. At least now the government should do something to allow Jallikattu to happen,” Balakrishna of Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Sangam told Sun News.

Speaking on the same channel, writer Manushiyaputran said that whenever students take up an issue, it gets reinvigorated. “Jallikattu is to protect our culture and native breeds. The Centre has continuously fooled us on this and it is high time they issue an ordinance.”

Jallikattu
Even though on duty, many policemen have shown their solidarity with the protests in different ways.
TNM Staff | Saturday, January 21, 2017 – 10:55
Screenshot/Puthiyathalaimurai

The unprecedented protests in favour of jallikattu in Tamil Nadu have seen people from across social classes participating in the movement.

There have also been instances of members from the police force taking part in the protests even as they’d been stationed at the site on duty. Images of policemen distributing food and water to the protesters have also been doing the rounds on social media.
An electrifying speech given by a policeman during the protests at Marina beach in Chennai shows how deeply emotional the issue is to the people of Tamil Nadu.
He said:
If we let the bull that has been with us for thousands of years to die, how can we say we’re Tamilians? There are babies in this world who have not had mother’s milk, but are there any babies in this world who have not had cow’s milk? They keep saying farmer-farmer…this is an issue that’s important to the farmers. Is a government who doesn’t understand, is this a government at all? What is natural farming? The farmer puts water, cowdung and prepares the land. But now how do they do farming? The soil has been killed by using artificial chemicals. Next, they’re going to kill the cows by stopping jallikattu.
We’re going to the next state and begging for water. The farmer is dying of debt because he doesn’t have water for cultivation. What answer are you going to give for all this? There are many police personnel like me in this crowd. People wearing uniforms who have the desire to speak about this like I have. There are many cops who didn’t go home last night and sleep but have worn civil dress and have remained in this crowd. I have come on their behalf also. I agree that the police has so far never participated in such protests. But I’ve participated now because I understand the seriousness of this issue and want action to be taken.”
The Times of India reports that Mathiazhagan is from Ramanathapuram and that when senior police officials heard about his speech, they rushed towards him and asked him to get back to duty. They have, however, assured the protesters that no action will be taken against him.
Another policeman in Pudhukottai who participated in the protests was interviewed by Puthiya Thalaimurai channel. He said:
 “There is nobody instigating me to be part of this protest. It is my Tamil identity. It is the Tamil I studied which brought me here. It is the Tamil in my blood. The people fighting here, not caring about hunger, are fighting for their rights. I’m also a Tamilian. Why should I stay away? When my people are going hungry, why should I stay away? I should also participate.
I’m an educated youth. I work for the police force. The central government and PM Modi have to definitely permit jallikattu for the people. This is about our Tamil identity. According to Article 29(1) of our laws, no government can deny a people their cultural traditions. The PM has to do it. We have to save our bull, we have to save our Tamil identity. My blood is boiling for this.”

The police has been appreciative of the crowd’s peaceful and cooperative behaviour.
RJ Balaji’s speech at the Marina, crediting the protesters for getting the government to pass the emergency ordinance was greeted with wild cheers. “It’s not the 39 MPs we elected who have done this, it is you!” he said. He also said that revolution had happened in Egypt but that this was the first time such a thing was happening in India after the Independence movement.
Watch his emotionally charged speech here:

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