D. Karthikeyan and S. Vijay Kumar
Fourteen seriously injured; animal rights activists were present
MADURAI: Hours after the Supreme Court cleared the conduct of jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, the event was held amidst tight security at Palamedu in Madurai district.
Eighty-three persons were injured, 14 of them seriously, in the six-hour-long native sport in which unarmed men attempted to tame raging bulls. The entire event was videographed by the police, the district administration and animal rights activists, as directed by the court.
Thousands of people, including foreign nationals, thronged the venue to witness the traditional event that is part of the Pongal celebrations. Those injured critically were referred to the Government Rajaji Hospital here. A woman spectator, Chinna Ponnu (40), was injured as a bull ran helter-skelter on being chased by a huge mob. The Primary Health Centre in Palamedu was overflowing with patients late in the evening.
Besides Inspector-General of Police (South Zone) Sanjeev Kumar, Madurai Collector S.S. Jawahar and Superintendent of Police T.S. Anbu, representatives from the Animal Welfare Board of India and Blue Cross were present. For the first time, cameras mounted on large cranes swung across the arena to capture the events.
A total of 397 bulls and 339 registered tamers participated in the event. Fourteen bulls were rejected on medical grounds.
All the animals were subjected to a medical test by qualified veterinary surgeons, led by Regional Joint Director, Animal Husbandry, P. Kamarajan. Participants were also asked to undergo a medical test.
Steps were taken to ensure that the tamers did not carry weapons.
Also, the horns of bulls were made blunt. The bulls, specially reared for the event, were brought from Madurai, Theni, Dindigul, Sivagangai, Virudhunagar and Ramanathapuram. Participants were given an identification number and a t-shirt.
Barricades were erected to prevent spectators from mingling with participants. Ambulances of both Government and private hospitals were kept at vantage points to ensure quick medical aid.
Some spectators complained that galleries were not sufficient to accommodate them and charged that the locals collected hefty sums for letting people stand in the galleries. The apex court had insisted on a three-day notice before conducting the event. Mr. Jawahar said the organisers had approached him well in advance and the district administration was prepared to conduct the event, strictly adhering to the court directions. “The notice period was only to enable the official machinery to make arrangements for the event. We were ready…the organisers also assured us of cooperation in conducting the event as per the court guidelines,” he said.
Mr. Sanjeev Kumar said adequate police personnel were deployed. Double barricading was done to keep visitors away from bulls. On a few occasions, the police had to enter the arena and move out unauthorised persons trying their hand at bull taming.