Of the 225 tamers nine sustained minor injuries; double-barricading provides safety net

Fortunately for the organisers of ‘Jallikattu’ (taming of bulls) at Periya Suriyur village, the rural sport adding glean to Pongal festivities generated the requisite excitement, and more importantly ended without any untoward incident.

But for nine youths who required medical attention for minor injuries, the rest out of the impressive turnout of about 225 tamers, returned home safe. For about seven hours, 351 bulls, one after the other, tested the valour of the tamers. Those clinging to the hump of robust animals for a specified duration qualified themselves for prizes ranging from stainless steel vessels and cash to mobile phones. A layering of coconut husk on the floor of the arena provided comfort for the tamers.

Compliance to the apex court’s norms under which the event was permitted was scrutinised thoroughly by the District Collector Jayashree Muralidharan, Superintendent of Police Lalitha Lakshmi, and a host of other senior officials. Their constant instructions enabled police to rein in sections of over-enthusiastic spectators seen leaning heavily on barricades. Double-barricading provided a safety net though.

Presence of scores of volunteers affiliated to the ‘Jallikattu Amaippu Vizha Kuzhu’ notwithstanding, crowd-control turned onerous for the police. There was little that the police could do with crowds of people clinging precariously on branches of trees surrounding the arena and perched on the ladders of an imposing mobile tower. Almost every inch of the floor on a few open terraces in the vicinity of the arena were occupied by young and old alike.

Under directions of the Superintendent of Police, eight Deputy Superintendents and larger numbers of Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors were on their feet commanding over 400 personnel to keep surging crowds in check. Yet, in between, the event had to be suspended for a few times to maintain orderliness.

As per the Supreme Court guidelines, the event was monitored by two officials of Animal Welfare Board D. Banima and P. Ramesh. For nearly half a kilometre from the ‘Vadi Vasal’, the animals were provided open space to get away from the arena. But, after half-an-hour of the start, the bull owners and their entourage started causing disturbances, according to Mr. Ramesh, who was unhappy with the nonchalance of officials at the level of Tahsildars and Revenue Divisional Officers to address the issue even after it was taken to their knowledge. Due to the failure of the organisers to clear the ground of the thorny shrubs, the running animals sustained scratches on both sides of the body, Mr. Ramesh said.

The district administration and the police have their task cut out for conducting the event on a larger scale at Palakurichi Avarangadu near Manapparai. The arena is much bigger and the crowd turnout is also expected to be more, since it is being conducted after two years. Last year, ‘jallikattu’ was cancelled there by the district administration as the organisers could not put the safety measures in place as per the Supreme Court’s stringent guidelines. This year, the district administration is convinced about the arrangements.

The seating arrangement for spectators at Palakurichi Avarangadu is a cause for apprehension, according to Mr. Ramesh. The planks made of coconut trunks may not withstand weight of spectators beyond a certain limit, he said, calling for safety intervention by the district and police authorities.