Beware of media painting BJP and RSS as fascists – David Frawley

Rahul Gandhi & Chidambaram

Acharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)Apart from manufacturing perpetual outrage, the Left has no positive agenda for national growth or futuristic development of the country. Congress and the Left are leaderless and self-destructing, with a number of their prominent representatives becoming figures of public derision. – Dr David Frawley

The old Leftist rhetoric that has dominated India’s politics for decades is now falling on deaf ears and becoming rejected by voters. Both recent UP and Delhi elections indicate this trend. Though the old Indian media continues to raise a shrill campaign of Leftist outrage against the dangers of Narendra Modi and the BJP, voters have gone over to them in a landslide.

Strategies

Special media and campaign strategies were implemented in India prior to 2014 to keep the BJP out of power, and after Modi’s victory in 2014 to weaken his influence and remove him from power. These strategies reflect the propaganda approaches of the old socialist-communist mind-set, with exaggerations, allegations, and name-calling, but little by way of actual facts. Let us examine the most relevant of these charges.

The charge of fascism has been made for decades against BJP/RSS, even comparing the Sangh with the Islamic State. Yet, the fact is that the BJP national and state governments are the most competent in recent India, doing more for the poor and to improve administration and infrastructure. This is a welcome change from the corruption of the old Congress dynasty and its regional warlords, with their divide-and-rule policies that prevented development and perpetuated social unrest. The truth is that the Left historically has promoted militancy and genocide, extending to the murdering of Hindu workers in communist Kerala and Maoist violence in India today.

Similarly, a charge of intolerance is raised against Hindus, as if they were the main group inhibiting harmony in India. This includes exaggerating or inventing Hindu attacks on Muslims and Christians. The fact is that Hindus are more tolerant than any other religious group because they don’t follow any theology of salvation and damnation. Far from suppressing other religions, Hindus continue to be targeted by missionary aggression inside India and outside. In addition, Christians and Muslims in India have more freedom than in any other country in Asia. Hindus in Pakistan comparatively have a marginal existence and are being systematically eliminated.

The charge of majoritarianism is another key part of the anti-Modi agenda with the claim is that there is now an oppressive Hindu majority in power. Actually democracy is majority-ruled, so the majority does have a right to rule within the bounds of the law. In this regard, the majority in India, which is largely Hindu, is much more accommodating than the majority in any Islamic country. Those who make the charge of majoritarianism have long been cultivating minority vote banks, defined on caste and religious grounds. They are afraid of national unity that would compromise their electoral base.

The charge of Hindu or saffron terrorism is perhaps the most extreme Leftist claim. This is one of the biggest falsifications brought about by affording repeated media attention to a few isolated cases eventually dismissed as false. All Hindu terrorist charges could highlight is a Hindu woman swami, Sadhvi Pragya, kept in jail without bail for nine years until the case against her was dismissed for lack of evidence. Compare this to ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Taliban, with their organised armies, massacres and terrorist attacks that the media hesitates to call Islamic terror.

Danger

Cow vigilantism and the attempt to make cow protectors as dangerous as ISIS and jihadi terrorism are false equivalents. Incidents of violence relative to cow smuggling and cow protection have occurred for decades, but this is hardly a Hindu attack on non-Hindus, much less a national security issue. In addition, India, like all countries, would benefit by less meat in the diet. Only in India do liberals emphasise beef eating rather than reduction of unnecessary meat consumption.

Assault on student freedoms relative to JNU student protests is another frequent item of Leftist outrage. Yet JNU communist student unions have long promoted anti-government, pro-Maoist, pro-Kashmiri separatist sentiments under the guise of freedom of expression. India’s sympathetic media has portrayed such students as innocent victims of state aggression, for questioning their motives or actions. The same JNU students try to prevent any pro-Hindu speakers from doing programmes.

Allegation

A new allegation is the danger of having a swami as chief minister, mixing religion and politics, with Yogi Adityanath taking up the reins of Uttar Pradesh. Since before Mahatma Gandhi, a spiritual voice has been present in Indian politics and social discourse. Yogi Adityanath is performing better as CM than did the previous so-called secular government known for its corruption and decay of law and order, and the Yogi is gaining respect accordingly. It is performance that matters today, not simply name or background.

Apart from manufacturing perpetual outrage, the Left has no positive agenda for national growth or futuristic development of the country. Congress and the Left are leaderless and self-destructing, with a number of their prominent representatives becoming figures of public derision.

Meanwhile the BJP has come to represent aspirational India at both economic and cultural levels. There is nothing wrong with such national pride and enthusiasm. It is a long overdue change from the old socialist era in which individual initiative was blocked and India’s culture denigrated. Such unity is needed for India to progress in the world of nations, which the Nehruvian-Marxist alliance could never deliver.

India has a great dharmic civilisation with much to offer the world. The world should be happy that India is willing to move forward according to its own civilisational ethos and no longer function as another failed socialist state looking for global sympathy. Yet, it seems the Leftist media was happier with a Lalu Prasad and his backward Bihar than Narendra Modi and his new dynamic India. Fortunately, voters can no longer be deceived. – Daily-O, 13 May 2017

» Dr. David Frawley (Pandit  Vamadeva Shastri) D. Litt., is a teacher in the Vedic tradition. He is recognized as a Vedacharya, and includes in his unusual wide scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient Vedic teachings going back to the Rigveda.

Sitaram Yechury at JNU

Are Christian and Muslim nations ok and Hindu nations not? – Maria Wirth

The New York Times leads the world media in Hindu-baiting!European newspapers follow The New York Times!

Maria WirthNeither the West nor Muslim countries want a strong India. India was the cradle of civilisation and over most of the known history economically very powerful. They may fear that based on her ancient culture, India may rise again to the top. – Maria Wirth

I sometimes wonder who influences whom: the Indian mainstream journalists the foreign correspondents or the other way round, as they always hold the same view. Or is there even a directive from the top of the media houses about who must be protected and who can be abused?

Obviously, Hindus can be abused. I was shocked when I recently checked articles in major newspapers like The New York Times on the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as chief minister in Uttar Pradesh. Like in the run-up to the general elections in 2014, when a Modi victory loomed large, the media went berserk. The gist was: By appointing Yogi Adityanath, Prime Minister Modi has finally shown his true face of a Hindu fundamentalist who wants to make India a “Hindu nation” where minorities have no place. The articles peddled untruths and drew unacceptable conclusions. The Swiss NZZ for example wrote that it is hardly possible for Prime Minister Modi’s government to call itself the representative of all Indians after appointing a figure like Yogi Adityanath.

A Hindu nation is projected as the worst possible scenario by the wrongly called “liberal” media. Yet, the same media don’t react when America or most other western countries are referred to as Christian nations. Nor do they get agitated about the numerous Muslim nations; not even about those which still have harsh blasphemy laws. Why are these ok, and a Hindu nation is not ok? They don’t explain; they just insinuate that minorities (read Muslims and Christians) will suffer in a Hindu nation.

Maybe they came to this conclusion because minorities like Jews or Hindus suffer in certain Christian or Muslim nations though the media hardly pulls those countries up for it. However, even otherwise, this conclusion is wrong, as Hindus have a different mind-set. They are open towards other views, unlike “good” Christians and Muslims who feel obligated to make everyone believe what they believe, if necessary by deceit or force.

Hindus cannot be put into one single box. There are too many different ways to reach the goal of life. As it were, there are many minorities within Hinduism. But they all are based on the Vedic insight that everything, including our persons, is permeated by the same divine essence which is called by many names but is ultimately ONE. Our human consciousness (atman) is one with the cosmic consciousness (Brahman) and to realize this, is the goal and fulfillment of life. “Satyam vada, Dharmam chara” the Veda exhorts—speak the truth and do what is right under the given circumstances. And find out who you really are: you are not a separate entity but in the depths of your being one with all.

From this follows that “good” Hindus are those rare human beings whose dharma makes them regard all others as brothers and sisters. Their dharma makes them further respect nature and not harm unnecessarily any living being.

Hindus do not, unlike Christians and Muslims, divide humanity into those who are chosen by God and those who are eternally damned. Hindu children are not taught to look down on those who are not Hindus, unlike children of the dogmatic religions who are taught that their God does not love those others unless they join their ‘true’ religions.

Hindus are also comparatively kinder to animals. The great bulk of vegetarians worldwide are Hindus.

Hindus never fought crusades or jihads to establish their dharma in foreign lands. In fact, they didn’t need to, because they convinced most of Asia merely by solid arguments. Yet, for the past thousand years Hindus were at the receiving end of jihads and conversion campaigns and millions of Hindus were killed in cold blood because they were Hindus.

It has to be held in favour of Hindus that they held on to their tradition and did not succumb to the pressure and even violence brought on them to adopt blind belief that only one particular person has revealed the full truth. Instead, they continued trusting their sages who never asked for blind belief, but asked to verify their insights through experience.

So why do media worldwide get so worked up about “Hindu fundamentalists” and a possible “Hindu nation”. What is wrong with the fundamentals? There is nothing wrong with the fundamentals. But there is one major difference: For Hindus, the Divinity is in all and all is in the Divinity, whereas for Christians and Muslims the Divinity is separate from his creation watching us from somewhere.

The concept of Divinity is also different. For Hindus the best description for the absolute truth is sat-chit-ananda (it is true, aware and blissful). The many personal gods help the devotee to realize the Absolute. Christians and Muslims perceive Divinity in its highest form as a personal, superhuman entity who is jealous of other gods. The first commandment in Christianity and a very important issue in Islam is the claim that nobody must worship other gods except the “one true god”, which both religions claim is only with them.

In all likelihood the Hindu view comes closer to truth. When the first translations of Vedic texts appeared in the West, the greatest minds in Europe were greatly impressed by Indian thought. It did spread among scientists, too, who used it to push the frontiers of science further. It is no coincidence that modern science discovered that all is one energy after Vedanta became known in the west. It is also no coincidence that the Church lost much of its power in Europe when some of India’s wisdom filtered down to the masses

Why then are the media worldwide so worried about a nation where the Hindu roots are fostered? Where Sanskrit is taught, which is the most perfect, dignified, powerful language on earth and which is useful even for NASA? Where yoga is practised in schools, which is an ideal means for all-round development and which, on a deeper level, helps to find fulfilment in live? Where Vedic philosophy is studied, which inspired the new scientific discoveries for example in nuclear physics? Where the amazing wisdom of Mahabharata and Ramayana becomes common knowledge, which is already taught in business seminars abroad? Where children chant “Loka samastha sukhino bhavantu” (let all be happy) instead of Humpty Dumpty, which happens already in certain schools in the West?

Yet as soon as Hindus make suggestions for India to keep its Hindu character or rather, to gain back its Hindu character, as even after Independence, the youth was encouraged to abandon it, there is an outcry by the media that “Hindu fundamentalists” want to make India a Hindu nation and exclude religious minorities. Ironically, “Hindu” is a geographical term, with the same root as Indian—people who lived beyond the Sindhu or between the Himalayas and the Indian Ocean.

So why would Indians who rather recently converted to Islam or Christianity not be proud of the achievements of their ancestors? India was the cradle of civilization, a knowledge hub and the richest country on earth. It was known for its wisdom. Greeks, including Pythagoras, are said to have come to India for knowledge and today everybody knows his name, but not the name of the Indian mathematician—Baudhayana—who originally discovered the Pythagoras theorem. Surely Christians and Muslims cannot have any objection that students are taught this fact or the fact that the Rishis of the Rig Veda (10.22.14) knew many thousand years before Copernicus that the earth goes around the sun. Surely they also cannot have any objection that students chant “May all be happy” in Sanskrit, the language of their forefathers. If someone calls such teaching communal it is malicious. If someone objects to this teaching, should not he be shouted at by the media instead of those who want to revive their ancient culture? Is not he the one who tries to divide society and not those who say “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” (all is one family) due to their philosophical outlook?

Hindus are the exemplary role model for “how not to exclude others”? Where else have religious minorities flourished and grown like in India? Is not the relative harmony in this amazing diversity in India generally admired abroad? Media persons need only to look around in the world to realize this fact.

Why then are Hindus of all people accused of excluding others?

The reason may be this: neither the West nor Muslim countries want a strong India. India was the cradle of civilisation and over most of the known history economically very powerful. They may fear that based on her ancient culture, India may rise again to the top. Is it the media’s job to put Hindus perpetually on the defensive by spreading this bogey of Hindu fundamentalism and prevent a better education policy which would give India an edge?

“Imagine, India would become a Hindu nation!” the media shout infuriated. The problem, however, is that they don’t imagine it and don’t ask basic questions. If they only imagined what a Hindu nation looks like, they might start propagating Hindu nations all over the globe for harmony and peace in the world.

One day, when people have become tired of blindly believing strange things, and when nobody is threatened any longer with dire consequences if he stops believing in those strange things, the world may be grateful to Bharat Mata that she has conceived and preserved over millennia those eternal, precious insights for the benefit of humanity. – Maria Wirth Blog, 21 April 2017

» Maria Wirth is a German author and psychologist who has lived in Uttarkhand for decades.

Yogi Adityanath

Hindu unity can trump Muslim vote bank – Punarvasu Parekh

Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath

JournalistHindus are realising that they can capture the Indian state if only they stand together, even as Muslims are realising that they have been used by secularist parties to gain power. – Punarvasu Parekh

Uttar Pradesh assembly election results have hit the secularist lobby where it hurts most. India’s largest and politically most important state has demonstrated once again that even if half the Hindus decide to vote as Hindus, they can easily trump the Muslim vote bank. Uttar Pradesh has the largest Muslim population in the country. Muslim votes make up more than 19 per cent of its electorate. In an assembly of 403 seats, 134 constituencies have been identified as those where Muslim votes can swing the result.

Naturally, campaign in the recent assembly elections saw a fierce tussle between the SP and BSP to garner Muslim votes en bloc. Most of the analyses and reports in the mainstream media typically purveyed speculation on which way the Muslim votes would swing—SP or BSP? Reading them, one got the impression that skull caps and burquas held key to the power in the most populous state in the country. In stark contrast, the BJP did not field a single Muslim candidate. Its poll plank was inclusive development, epitomized in the catchy slogan sab ka sath, sab ka vikas.

The results were astounding: BJP and allies won 325 seats in an assembly of 403. The number of Muslims elected to the assembly dropped from 68 in 2012 to 23. This shows that Muslims cannot get elected in most places without Hindu support, although the secularists would have us believe the opposite. The BJP’s resounding victory even in Muslim dominated areas was sought to be explained by pointing out that the Muslim vote was divided between the SP and BSP, allowing the BJP to win easily. Another explanation offered was that Muslims voted for the BJP in large numbers, lured by the promise of all-round development. The Shia-Sunni cleavage and BJP’s progressive stand on triple talaq were also thrown in as part of the explanation.

On a closer look, however, both the explanations appear to be erroneous. While individual votes cannot be traced, voting pattern in constituencies dominated by the community could give some indication about its preferences. Results in 59 constituencies with more than a quarter of Muslim voters show that the SP (29 per cent) and BSP (18 per cent) together polled 47 per cent of votes, almost unchanged from the 48 per cent they got in 2012 (SP 26 per cent and BSP 22 per cent), and higher than the 43 per cent they got in 2014 (SP 27 per cent and BSP 16 per cent). So, Muslim support for the two “secular” parties remained intact. The difference was made by the consolidation of the Hindu vote in favour of BJP, which managed to secure 39 per cent of the total votes, indicating a jump of 17 per cent from 2012, though a fall of 4 per cent from 2014.

Indeed, an analysis in Swarajya magazine yields an even more interesting insight. Hindu consolidation was stronger precisely in areas where Muslims formed a sizable chunk of the electorate. For instance, in Deoband which has 71 per cent Muslim voters, SP and BSP together secured 128,229 votes, whereas BJP candidate polled 102,244. Muslim independents claimed other 11,000 votes.

The importance of this recent trend toward consolidation of Hindu votes cannot be overstated. Islam has distorted our democracy with its vote banks. No other democracy in the world has such a sizeable minority determined to vote tactically with the sole aim of thwarting the majority community. The care and concern of political parties for Muslim vote banks has led them to divisive and anti-national policies.

Now the wheel seems to have turned a full circle. Hindus are realising that they can capture the Indian state if only they stand together, even as Muslims are realising that they have been used by secularist parties to gain power. As this twin realization sinks in, Hindus could not be taken for granted whereas Muslims could not be scared into voting in a particular way. All this is happening at a time when a very large part of the population cutting across all barriers is tired of identity politics and yearning for good governance and economic opportunities. This will bring about a much needed balance and sanity in our polity. A Ram Vilas Paswan, for instance, will no longer dare to campaign with an Osama bin Laden look-alike in tow.

Hindus facing increasing heat of Islamism and church machinations, as in West Bengal and Kerala, can take heart from election results in Uttar Pradesh. All is not lost for them yet, if only they realize what is at stake and make the right choices.

The road to balance and sanity will not be smooth. Secularist parties, long used to garner votes by invoking identities and fear, will be loath to adapt to new rules of the game. Muslims, feeling cheated by Hindu politicians, may fall for exclusively and overtly Muslim outfits floated by the likes of Owaisis and Ajmals. With that we may see a determined push towards greater polarization in the coming years. However, Muslim outfits will risk marginalization if they adopt aggressive anti-Hindu postures which will be supported neither by secularist parties fearing Hindu backlash nor by Muslims who are realizing what it means for them.

As can only be expected, secularists may deny of demonize the Hindu assertion implicit in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. But the genie seems to be finally out of the bottle. Whatever the name given to them, what needs to be emphasized is that forces released by that election are benign and positive for the country, and our polity will not know rest till these forces finally prevail.

Quite a few Hindu nationalists are dissatisfied with Narendra Modi for neglecting the Hindu issues such as freeing temples from government interference and Hindu educational institutions from discrimination. They should also give him the huge credit he has earned by breaking up the power and awe of the Muslim vote bank, and Modi should reciprocate by addressing Hindu concerns..

Uttar Pradesh election results (2017)

   

Jallikattu: Arguments in favour of the ‘sport’ are untenable – Radha Rajan

Jallikattu Bull

Radha Rajan is the editor of Vigil OnlineThe BJP and its supporters, who sparked and sustained the pro-Jallikattu protests, do not seem to take the very real dangers associated with the ‘sport’ seriously. – Radha Rajan

Blame for sowing the first seeds of the Occupy Marina protests in favour of Jallikattu must be laid squarely at the doors of three senior leaders of the Tamil Nadu Bharatiya Janata Party. But the crowning glory of nullifying the visionary May 7, 2014 Supreme Court order banning Jallikattu—reducing to dust 40 years of effort to petition the legislature to ban all sports using bulls as objects of entertainment and hammering the last nail in the coffin of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 by rushing through an amendment to facilitate Jallikattu—rightfully belongs to the BJP government at the Centre. Given that 10 people, including a policeman on duty, have died, that several bulls have been injured while one terrified bull running for its life died after falling into a quarry following the resumption of Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, that two bulls died during Jallikattu in Andhra Pradesh, and that hundreds of spectators have been injured, questions are now being raised about why well-known people like Sri Sri Ravishankar, Jaggi Vasudev, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy and journalist S. Gurumurthy are vocal in their support for this blood-sport.

Political observers understood the significance of students entering the fray in favour of Jallikattu, which overnight became an issue of “Tamil pride”. Even if on day one the campaign could be projected as a revolutionary student movement for Jallikattu, by day two it was no longer about the “sport” but about Tamil identity politics.

BJP leaders in the state said that if the people of Tamil Nadu chose to disregard the May 2014 Supreme Court order banning Jallikattu, the party would stand firmly with the people; one of them even let loose the bulls on his farm in what he proclaimed was a traditional bull-run. Not to be left behind, and taking their cue from the ruling party at the Centre, the two major Dravidian political parties and several Tamil-chauvinist political groups jumped into the fray, also extending support to people if they chose to defy the Supreme Court order. What the BJP should have foreseen but did not, or what the BJP saw but did not comprehend, was that within 48 hours of the Occupy Marina campaign, the mass mobilisation allegedly for Jallikattu became a massive show of strength to bring the state and central government to their knees; it succeeded even beyond their wildest expectations. The BJP government in Delhi and the state unit of the “party with a difference” came to their senses when posters of Prabhakaran of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and posters with secessionist slogans—besides slogans and posters against Modi—began to be openly flaunted on Marina beach.

It was too late by then for any political party to disown the movement without burning their fingers. Neither the central government nor the state government, much less the state unit of the BJP, were in any position to douse the fire they had lit with such cynical disdain for the law and rule of law.

When the president of India, on advice from the BJP central government, gave his assent to the Tamil Nadu amendment to the PCA Act, he was only defusing an out of control crisis threatening to explode on the people of Tamil Nadu. But the question is, at what cost? The Modi sarkar, by advising the president to give assent to the amendment, has further weakened an already weak law—the only law in this country to protect animals from human depredation.

The end result of Occupy Marina

In the wake of Sasikala’s conviction by the Supreme Court, Subramanian Swamy has been exulting in the judgment pronounced by Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and Amitava Roy. On one channel, he observed with satisfaction that the order proved that not all judges are corrupt. He added that the February 14, 2017 judgment was brilliantly articulated and would henceforth be considered a landmark judgment against corruption in public life. The irony of it! Swamy and friends are oblivious or impervious to the fact that by expressing public support for Jallikattu and lobbying for it with the central government, they demolished another brilliantly and sensitively articulated judgment delivered by the same Justice Ghosh with Justice K. S. Radhakrishnan on May 7, 2014.

When the true face of Occupy Marina could no longer be kept under wraps or swept under the carpet, the state government and BJP central government adopted the carrot and stick method to end it: the state government tasked the police to vacate the occupiers of the beach in readiness for Republic Day while the BJP central government used the office of the president to facilitate what the Tamil Nadu Government Gazette Extraordinary describes as “An Act to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 so as to preserve the cultural heritage of the State of Tamil Nadu and to ensure the survival and well-being of the native breeds of bulls.”

The Tamil Nadu amendment to the PCA says:

28-A. Saving in respect of ‘Jallikattu’—Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to ‘Jallikattu’ conducted to follow and promote tradition and culture and such conduct of ‘Jallikattu’ shall not be an offence under this Act.

  1. (1) The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 is hereby repealed.

(2) Notwithstanding such repeal, anything done or any action taken under the principal Act, as amended by the said Ordinance, shall be deemed to have been done or taken under the principal Act, as amended by this Act.

This is precisely what politicians and spiritual gurus have said in support of Jallikattu, citing examples which insult our intelligence.

Untenable arguments in support of Jallikattu

Argument #1: Jallikattu is Tamil pride, Tamil culture and the cultural heritage of the state of Tamil Nadu

Not long ago (and practiced even now in certain parts of Tamil Nadu), widows had to shave their heads, give up coloured clothes, not participate in celebratory functions and rituals, and live the rest of their lives in seclusion. Girl children were married before puberty, before they could understand the institution of marriage and motherhood, and before their bodies were ready for childbearing. Women were forced to commit sati, pay dowry and submit to being “inspected” by the potential groom and his family. Not long ago, we did many things, good, bad and ugly. The bad and ugly have been given up altogether or are dying a slow death. Jallikattu, which traumatises animals and kills and maims both animals and humans, even if it is culture, tradition and heritage, must be given up like we gave up child marriage, sati and perpetual widowhood.

Argument #2: To ensure the survival and well-being of native breeds of bulls

Bulls running away in terror and jumping into wells and quarries, being knocked to death by speeding trains or fracturing their limbs is hardly well-being, much less survival. Let us return to spiritual leaders Sri Sri Ravishankar and Jaggi Vasudev, and to Swamy and journalist Gurumurthy. These four individuals have their own spheres of influence in society and may possibly have some influence with the BJP central government. They all know that not just Tamil Nadu but all of India is rich in native breeds of cattle. They also know that native cattle breeds differ from one another in various ways. If we accept the argument that Jallikattu is the only way to ensure the well-being and survival of native breeds of cattle, then what is the fate of those native breeds which are unfit for Jallikattu? And significantly, how will the BJP central government ensure the survival of native breeds in north India, where there is no Jallikattu at all? In Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, there is no tradition of Jallikattu or anything even remotely resembling it.

There are some individuals, Jallikattu supporters, who run animal farms exclusively for Kangeyam bulls. Ravishankar also has several well-kept native breed cattle in his ashram. His Art of Living Foundation and Vasudev’s Isha Foundation must now invest in setting up similar animal farms across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to encourage the survival of Bargur, Umblachery, Pulikulam and Alambadi breeds of native cattle, at least two farms for every breed. If Swamy would see the wisdom of persuading his fans spread across the country and outside to come to India and invest in animal farms to breed and protect native breeds, if journalist Gurumurthy could invest time to write consistently and persistently about the need to set up animal farms and his influence with Hindu spiritual leaders, there would be no need for the Jallikattu fig-leaf argument to ensure their survival.

In the north we have the Red Sindhi, Gir, Tharparkar, Hariana and Sahiwal to name just five native breeds. How are spiritual leaders and the BJP government in the Centre going to ensure their well-being and survival, considering there is no Jallikattu in the north of India except for buffalo fights in Assam?

I will conclude by dealing with two examples cited by Swamy and Jaggi Vasudev for why Jallikattu should not be banned. Swamy has been saying—and he smiled when he said it—that people die and are maimed for life or injured in road accidents and by speeding vehicles. Even Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi said the same thing in the Supreme Court. If we do not ban vehicles, why ban Jallikattu? When people die in road, rail, water and airplane accident, reckless driving and human negligence is punished by our courts and victims get compensation. Can Swamy and friends dismiss just as lightly the death of a policeman on duty who was killed by a bull fleeing in fear and terror? And how is the bull that is maimed or killed during Jallikattu to be compensated?

Vasudev cited the example of cricket. The spiritual leader is supposed to have remarked that players are often injured and sometimes even killed when playing cricket. But we do not ban cricket. Not just cricket, players are killed or are injured in any contact sport—football, soccer or boxing. The critical difference being, these are humans who know what they are doing and also know the risks involved in the sport. They nevertheless choose to do what they are doing. Bulls do not choose. Animals are not obliged to uphold human culture, tradition or heritage. Bulls do not choose to be terrorised and abused.

Activists and spiritual leaders should use their influence and resources to look for more sensible and compassionate ways to protect native breeds of cattle, and educate society to give up practices which are not just contretemps but cruel and discriminatory. – The Wire, 17 February 2017

» Radha Rajan is a Chennai-based animal rights activist.

Article 51-A (g) of the Indian Constitution.

 

 

Jallikattu: Protests and Anti-Nationalism – Thamizhchelvan

Jallikattu

JournalistJallikattu remained as a pure tradition as long as it was practiced at the village level. However, as it got commercialized … it deviated from its tradition in course of time thereby losing its traditional values. … The bulls were subjected to various forms of cruelty, such as forced feeding of liquor, rubbing spicy chilli powder in the eyes, placing green chillies in the eyes, biting and twisting the tails, etc. – Thamizhchelvan

Jallikattu, a bull-taming sport conducted in the villages of a few districts of Tamil Nadu, was banned by the Supreme Court of India in May 2014. Though there were attempts to remove the ban in 2015 and 2016 during the Pongal festivals, the attempts failed and the ban seemed to settle permanently bringing the centuries old tradition to a grinding a halt. However, this year the country witnessed a week-long statewide protest involving youth and students, culminating in the passage of an ordinance by the State Assembly which was immediately enacted as a law. But in the process, the state also witnessed a sort of revival of separatist and anti-national movements in the name of Tamil culture utilizing a supposedly genuine student movement. Before going into the details of the protests, a look into the history of Jallikattu will be in order.

Ancient Hindu tradition

The original name of Jallikattu is “Yeru Thazhuvuthal” (Hugging the Hump of a Bull) and its history dates back to the days of Lord Krishna, as evidenced by Srimad Bhagawatham, which talks about Lord Krishna taming seven bulls in order to marry Naknajeeti, daughter of King of Koshala. The same is sung by famous Vaishnavite Saint Periyazhvar, who describes Naknajeeti as “Nappinnai” in his “Paasurams” (Hymns). Other Vaishnavite Saints like Thirumangai Azhvar and Nammazhvar have also mentioned it in their hymns.

The excavations of Indus Valley Civilization have also given an idea on such a tradition of bull taming in practice those days, as evidenced by the seal excavated from the site. The seal depicts the sport in which a bull tosses a man. Scholars like former archaeologist late Iravatham Mahadevan have confirmed this fact. Dr Kalyanaraman, Director of Saraswati Research Foundation has also confirmed the usage of Bulls in agricultural practices during the times of Indus-Saraswati civilization which dates back to 5000 years.

Yeru Thazhuvuthal has also been mentioned in Tamil Sangam literature like Kalithogai. Chozhan Nalluturhiranaar, a Sangam age poet, has sung in detail about this sport in his song named Mullaikal. Epigraphic inscriptions are also available for the practice of this sport for centuries in Tamil Nadu.

The sport has also helped the production and preservation of native breeds, as Tamil Nadu has a tradition of “temple bull system” which  is an agricultural practice clubbed with devotion and sport. The temple bulls have a special privilege of mating with number cows in its village and the same has also been exchanged with the bulls of other villages. Also during the conduct of Jallikattu, the temple bull will be the first to have a free run from the “Vadivasal” entrance chute to the sport arena) which will not be touched by the participating youth, as a mark of reverence. Pujas will be offered to it along with the temple Deity, as it is considered as Nandi Bhagwan, before the beginning of the sport.

In some districts a slightly different tradition is followed in the name of “Manju Virattu” or “Eruthottam” which is just chasing the bulls crisscrossing the village without the practice of taming them.

Hence Jallikattu is undoubtedly a Hindu religious and cultural tradition dating from the time of Lord Krishna to the present times through Indus-Saraswati civilizations and Sangam ages.

History of Jallikattu in the courts of law

The village sport remained as a pure tradition as long as it was practiced at the village level. However, as it got commercialized and the government started using it as a tourist attracting sport for the sake of revenue, it deviated from its tradition in course of time thereby losing its traditional values. Untraditional practices got into the system and the bulls were subjected to various forms of cruelty, such as forced feeding of liquor, rubbing spicy chilli powders in the eyes, placing green chillies in the eyes, biting and twisting the tails, etc.

Apart from cruelty heaped on hapless bulls, the sport also took the lives of youth and bulls too. Scores of youth have lost their lives; thousands of youth have been grievously injured and maimed for life over the years.  All these happenings attracted the attention of animal lovers and animal welfare organizations leading to cases being filed in the courts of law against the sport. In fact, the animal welfare organizations have been fighting against the sport for more than three decades. The legal history of Jallikattu goes as follows:

South Indian Humanitarian League and Blue Cross of India have been taking up the issue and submitting memorandums to the State Legislative Assembly against the  conduct of the sport for almost thirty years, with a request for a permanent ban.

2004: On a petition requesting for the conduct of Rekla sport in Ramanathapuram, Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla gave permission to conduct the sport without hurting the bulls.

2006: A petition requesting for the conduct of the sport was filed in Madurai Bench of the High Court. An aggrieved father, who had lost his only son in Jallikattu, also filed a case seeking ban of the sport. Justice Banumathi, taking into consideration the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 in its totality, banned all sports involving Bulls such as Jallikattu, Rekla, Bullock cart race, etc.

2007: On an appeal filed against Justice Banumathi’s order, HC Bench comprising Justices Elipi Dharma Rao and Janardhan Raja allowed Jallikattu, but, with some regulations under the supervision of District Collector, District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police, Animal Welfare Doctors and Animal Welfare organizations. Organisations like AWBI and PETA filed an appeal at the Supreme Court and on 27 July 2007, the SC issued an interim stay order.

2008: Later on 11 January 2008, Justice R. V. Ravindran and A, K, Patnaik ordered permanent ban of jallikattu. But surprisingly, they permitted Rekla Race, which is still worse and crueler. However, within a couple of days, the state government filed an appeal and the same bench revoked the ban and allowed the conduct of jallikattu albeit with regulations.

2009: Tamil Nadu government brought an ordinance (Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Regulation Act 2009) in the state assembly, making an amendment in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. The government however failed to obtain the mandatory Presidential assent to the Ordinance.

Between November 2010 and March 2011, the Supreme Court allowed the conduct of sport with regulations and under the supervision of district authorities and animal welfare organizations.

2011: Environment and Forest Minister of UPA government Jairam Ramesh issued a notification including bull (and its progeny) in the List of Performing Animals.

2012: Animal Welfare activist Radha Rajan filed a case at the Madurai Bench of High Court seeking ban of the sport. Bench comprising Justice Chitra Venkatraman and Justice Karuppaiya almost decided to ban the sport and pronounced the order orally on 12 January 2012. But after witnessing the huge hue and cry and commotion created by the Jallikattu enthusiasts and the pro jallikattu advocates in the open court, they gave 24 hours time to the Advocate General of the central government. The next day, on 13 January 2012, the same bench permitted the sport.

In the meantime, between 2009 and 2013, AWBI recorded the cruelty heaped on the hapless bulls and submitted the recording and documentation to the Supreme Court.

2014: On 7 May 2014, SC Bench comprising Justice K. S. Radha Krishnan and Justice Pinaki Chandrabose gave the land mark judgment banning Jallikattu and other sports involving  animals (bull and its progeny, cocks, etc.). In their judgment, they also emphasized the fact that the animals also have fundamental rights and freedom rights.

Steps taken by BJP government

Right from the day it took office, the BJP led NDA government has been acting in support of Jallikattu. Minister Pon.Radhakrishna from Tamil Nadu has been taking the required steps by taking the issue up with Prime Minister and other concerned ministers.

On 7 January 2016, the center released an order removing bull (and its progeny) from the List of Performing Animals. However, based on a petition by animal welfare organizations, the SC stayed the order on 12 January 2016. Then after hearing the arguments put forth y both the central and state governments, the SC ordered a permanent stay of Jallikattu on 26 July 2016. However, the center preferred an appeal.

In the meantime, the office bearers of Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Forum met Senior BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy and sought his help and legal guidance. When Dr Swamy approached SC on 7 December with his impleading petition, he was asked to submit his arguments in writing. On 14 December he submitted written arguments, which contained the following significant points:

Jallikattu is protected by Article 29(1) of the Constitution, as it is a religious and cultural tradition in practice for centuries. (He had placed all the facts from Srimad Bhagawatham to Sangam literatures and Temple Bull tradition, etc.)

Jallikattu is a part of Tamil Hindus’ fundamental duties to preserve the cultural and religious traditional values and hence it is protected by Article 51(A) (f) of the Constitution of India.

There is no provision in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 that could support enforcement of a permanent ban on Jallikattu or even for a limited period. Even if a ban on Jallikattu could be made based on the provisions of the PCA Act, 1960, such provisions would be hit by Article 13 of the Constitution of India.

A ban on Jallikattu—an ancient practice that is both cultural and religious—is not only unconstitutional—it is also in violation of the Doctrine of Proportionality. Apart from the above points, Dr Swamy has also dealt with in detail regarding how Jallikattu helps in the preservation of native breeds leading to healthy agricultural practices. He has also mentioned about the medicinal values of dung and urine of native breeds.However, the SC refused to deliver the judgment before Pongal.

Jallikattu protests

The social media like Facebook and WhatsApp were on fire with news and reports in favour of Jallikattu and the fire spread fast far and wide, creating a sort of uprising among the youth and student communities. Jallikattu was projected as Tamil pride and Tamil culture and a sustained campaign carried out through the social media platforms resulted in a statewide movement. Youth and students started congregating at the Marina Beach in Chennai, Thamukkam grounds in Madurai, V.O.C. Park in Coimbatore and other such venues across the state from 17 January onwards. They indulged in peaceful protest demonstrations seeking to ban PETA in India and also to lift the ban on Jallikattu.

As the demonstrations were peaceful, government and the police preferred to be mute spectators and just regulated the protestors. The protesters also cooperated with the police, without disturbing the traffic and commuting of general public. The college managements and parents also extended their support to the students.

The student uprising across the state surprised both the central and state governments. However, they preferred to allow the peaceful protests, probably in order to send a message to the Supreme Court. Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in turn assured all supports to the state government to pass an ordinance. Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan for his part took the office bearers (Mr.Rajasekar and Mr Karthikeyan Senapathy) of Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Forum to Home Minister, Law Minister and Environment and Forests Minister for a detailed presentation of the issue and further consultations. The center also requested the Supreme Court to postpone the final hearing for a week, in order to facilitate the passage of ordinance.

Infiltration of anti-national forces

Noticing the student uprising and the government’s passive reaction to it, anti-national outfits which have their own agendas to grind, intended to utilize the Jallikattu movement to their advantage. They started infiltrating the protest venues from the end of the second day onwards. The students also allowed them believing that they are from the general public coming in support of their movement. Although they refused to entertain film starts and political leaders in the beginning, in due course they could not stop film personalities and leaders of small outfits taking charge at the venues. Other major opposition parties sent their cadres disguised as students. Soon, anti-national outfits were seen very actively protesting against the central and state governments in the protest venues across the state.

Slogans against national integration and the idea of united India and slogans in support of Tamil Eelam and separate Tamil nation were shouted. Slogans personally attacking Chief Minister and Prime Minister were also shouted. Banners and posters having such anti-national slogans were also carried by the protesters. Vulgar songs were also sung and some elements indulged in obscene dancing too.

Although the media have been in support of the protesters in general, one particular TV channel, News-7, was very active and it also had the full support of protesting outfits.

Political observers are of the opinion that some forces inimical to the state and central establishments could be behind the uprising right from the beginning.  They also said that the role played by News-7 needed to be investigated.

Anti-national outfits and their agendas

The following anti-national outfits infiltrated the protest venues and changed the direction of the movement, in order to achieve their hidden agendas.

People Art and Literature Forum / Students Federation of India / Democratic Youth Federation of India are well known outfits functioning with Communist ideologies. They act as fronts for Maoists and Naxals and their activities are always against the establishment. As the Naxal and Maoist movements have been terribly affected by Prime Minister’s demonetization, they were waiting for a chance to create law and order unrest and violence. This Jallikattu protest came as a blessing for them in the state level and they utilized it as much as possible.

Revolutionary Youth Front / Revolutionary Students Front act in support of not only Maoists but also Tamil separatists. The cadres of these outfits conducted funeral procession carrying Prime Minister’s effigy.

They raised slogans personally attacking PM and were holding vulgar posters too.

May 17 Movement, which was founded during the Eelam War IV, was in the forefront of Jallikattu protests. But, the cadres were shouting slogans not in support of Jallikattu but in support of Tamil Eelam and separate Tamil nation. They also propagated for a separate Tamil national flag through social media and wanted to thwart the Republic Day celebrations. Thirumurgan Gandhi, who is the founder president of the outfit, was seen openly instigating the crowd through his speeches. He also gave interviews to TV channels.

Nam Thamizhar Katchi is a political party founded by actor/director Seeman. This party also supports Tamil Eelam and separate Tamil nation ideologies. The cadres of this party conducted pro Jallikattu rallies much before the student movement began. They have a tacit understanding with Islamic extremists. Known for his chameleon characteristics and double standards, Seeman has also supported the jihadis on cow slaughter and beef eating.

Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath / Social Democratic Party of India / Popular Front of India are some of the Islamic militant outfits, which infiltrated. These outfits are known for strategies of operating in the guise of social service, as they operate ambulance services and blood banks in many places. Through such services, they indulge in conversion activities and involve those converted people in acts of extremism. The cadres of these outfits infiltrated in the guise of doing services like serving food and water to the protesters. The gullible students allowed them, as they were starving without food and water. It was a sad irony that the Jallikattu protesters were served beef biriyani by these outfits.

These outfits are well known for their anti-national activities such as smuggling, spreading counterfeit currencies, indulging in hawala transactions, bomb blasts and murdering leaders and functionaries of Hindu organizations. Many of them have been arrested by state police and NIA for various offences. These cadres were seen carrying posters of terrorists Osama bin Laden and Palani Baba during the protests.

It must be noted that these outfits were also terribly affected by PM’s demonetization steps, as they could not indulge in any of the illegal activities.  So, they wanted to extend the protests for a few more days in order to sabotage the Republic Day celebrations and allegedly had plans of causing extensive damage to life and property. As a confirmation of the allegation, two jihadis were arrested in Madurai on the eve of Republic Day, for carrying pipe bombs.

Facebook and WhatsApp were fully utilized by these outfits for instigating their community to utilize the jallikattu protests to carry out anti-national activities.

Foreign funded NGOs and Congress Party have played a major role in instigating the protesters against central government. Ever since the BJP government took office, the Union Home Ministry has started cracking down on the shady activities such as religious conversions, etc., of these Church sponsored Christian NGOs. Those NGOs which have not submitted their financial accounts as per FCRA were brought under the scanners of IT department and Enforcement Directorate and thousands of such NGOs have been asked to shut their operations in India. Hence, backed by the Church and the Congress party, these NGOs played their role of instigating the students against the central government.

Minority educational institutions have also voluntarily sent their students to join the protests in large numbers, as they are also against the new education policy of the BJP government.

Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK), a dalit party, though against Jallikattu, has utilized this protest, to instigate the crowd against the central government. This party has close relations with jihadi outfits and hence, preferred to support them to carry out their anti-national agendas.

Dravidar Kazahagam (DK) the parent organization of all Dravidian parties in the state is a rank anti-national outfit right from its formation. Though the party’s policy is against Jallikattu, it allowed its cadres to infiltrate the protest venues, just to instigate the protesters against the central government. These cadres were seen shouting slogans against PM, BJP and RSS.  This party also has very close relations with Jihadi and Xian organizations.

DMK, the primary opposition party, also sent its cadres to infiltrate the movement in large numbers in the guise of students, in order to instigate them against the state and central governments. Although the party played its own role in bringing a ban on Jallikattu during the previous UPA regime, it projected itself as a pro Jallikattu party during the protests, with an ulterior motive of whitewashing its crime and bringing a bad name to BJP government.

High Command of AIADMK party played a very significant role during the protests with a motive of bringing down the chief minister, so that, it can occupy the chair.  In my previous cover story published after the death of former CM Jayalalithaa I had mentioned about Mr Natarajan, husband of Sasikala as follows:

The most important thing for the center to do is to keep a close watch on Sasikala’s husband Natarajan. It must remember that Natarajan has allegedly been the Sutradhari all these years, scripting each and every move and act of Sasikala in controlling the party, government and its leader Jayalalithaa. Natarajan is not an ordinary force. He has close acquaintances in all the parties and has good political connections across the country. He has been flirting with pro LTTE elements and also Tamil separatists. One of the most significant things which Jayalalithaa did was keeping him away from political limelight. But it’s a different matter that he took it to his advantage and carried on his shady activities. Now he has come out in the open and he must be kept under surveillance.

Things have happened during the Jallikattu protests in such a manner proving my above comments. The party high command of late, has become wary of Chief Minister Panneerselvam, as he seemed to be very accommodative of center listening to its advice and suggestions and acting accordingly for the well being of the state and its citizens. The CM earned the praise of general public for the way he had handled the Vardah cyclone.

As the Jallikattu protests started, he preferred not to clamp down on it and instead instructed the police to allow the protests to continue. On the other hand, he moved swiftly and coordinated with the center, met the Prime Minister personally and initiated required actions for the passage of the Jallikattu ordinance in the assembly. Fearing that Panneerselvam’s position would become stronger if the Jallikattu issue is solved, the Mannarkudi Mafia acted in haste by instigating the crowd.

The party high command was also in the center of controversy over the secrecy surrounding the hospitalization and death of former chief minister Jayalalithaa and it seemingly fears an investigation on the same. The knife of disproportionate assets case hanging on its head is another concern for it. So, it wanted to make full use of the jallikattu protests and capture the CM’s chair.

News-7 TV channel is run by mineral baron Vaikundarajan, who is close to Sasikala’s husband Natarajan. Political commentators, who closely observed the Jallikattu protests and the coverage done by News-7, are of the firm opinion that both Natarajan and Vaikundarajan had played a huge role behind the scenes, instigating the protesters to act against both the state and central governments. Confirming this point, Tamil daily Dinamalar in its issue dated 21 January, carried a five column report on CM-PM meet alleging that the CM had reported the shady activities of Natarajan to the Prime Minister.

Violence and riots

After getting the assurance of both the state and central governments that an ordinance would be passed immediately and a special session of the assembly would be convened to pass the ordinance as law, Jallikattu Forum announced the withdrawal of protests and appealed to the student community to withdraw from the protest venues immediately. Accordingly most of the students left for their homes.

As committed, the state government tabled the ordinance in the assembly and it was passed as a law on 21 January.  However, all the above mentioned anti-national outfits, and a small section of students, who were blinded by their propaganda, remained at the venue and refused to withdraw their protests. Although the senior police officials explained them in detail several times about the passage of ordinance and promulgation of law for the smooth conduct of Jallikattu, they refused to withdraw from the scene.

Meanwhile, in many places in Tamil Nadu Jallikattu was conducted peacefully though it took the lives of three persons including one policeman. Chief Minister, who proceeded to inaugurate the famous Alanganallur Jallikattu was stopped in Madurai itself, as the protesters continue their protests in Alanganallur. The CM however, preferred not to act in haste and came back to Chennai.

As the anti-national outfits were taken aback by the swift action of both the governments which brought immediate end to the protests, contrary to their expectations, they remained at the protest venue making demands like immediate ban of PETA, permanent solution for Jallikattu, etc.

Times of India reported that the people from nearby kuppams (fishermen hamlets) were offered 20,000 rupees per house for arranging food and 500 rupees per person to join the protests, by inimical forces which are against the central government. Even during the week-long protests the churches in the vicinity were seen supporting the protest demonstrations, as the coastal belt is predominantly populated by Christian community. So, the Times of India’s report must be seen with this fact in mind, so that the role of foreign funded NGOs could be understood.

Unable to digest the developments, they resorted to rioting and violence on Monday 23 January. Police stations were set on fire knowing fully well that a few personnel are inside. Policemen were attacked, women police were molested, police vehicles were torched, traffic was blocked in many places, cars and motorcycles were smashed and torched, public and private property were damaged and violence was unleashed across Chennai city and many other parts of the state. In the violent process, animal welfare activists were also not spared and their residences and offices were intentionally attacked.

The state police swung into action and brought the situations under control within a day. They were very restrained in their act, without harming the student community. They dealt only the anti-national elements with an iron hand and arrested many such elements across the state.

Thoroughly exposed anti-national elements

The week-long Jallikattu protests have thoroughly exposed the anti-national outfits and their devious agendas. The photographs and video clippings being shared on social media would serve as strong evidence against them. The state police also have got irrefutable evidences against these outfits, as confirmed by the senior police officials during their press meet which was organised after the protests were brought under control. Based on these evidences, both the governments must act immediately and enforce a total permanent ban on these anti-national outfits. Elements involved in violence and other anti-national activities must be brought to book. Any slackness on the part of governments would only help the revival of these forces leading to a Kashmir like situation in Tamil Nadu.

The youth, students and the general public have a huge responsibility. Through this firsthand experience they must understand the difference between democracy and anarchy, whom to support and who not to support. Based on such an understanding, they should strive to help the government, police force and the security agencies by rejecting and isolating the anti-national elements, which would help the development of the state and progress of the nation and prevalence of peace and harmony. – Uday India, 8 February 2017

» Thamizhchelvan is an independent senior journalist in Chennai.

Chennai Protests Jallikattu

Jallikattu: The law is an ass – Sanjay Pinto

Jallikattu BullSanjay Pinto

Courtesy Deccan Chronicle, 24 January 2017 & The New Indian Express, 23 January 2017.

The Jallikattu Effect – Cheena Kapoor

Jallikattu

Cheena KapoorWhile activists continue to fight for animal rights and the government bans certain traditions like Jallikattu that involve animal torture, believers continue to do what they always have—firm in their belief that religion and tradition back them. The right education and empathy is what is required to help people understand that God does not demand the killing of animals, activists point out. – Cheena Kapoor

For reasons of religion, tradition or just plain sport, festivals and other celebrations can often be bloodthirsty carnivals with animals being tortured or slaughtered. The age-old issue—of the conflict between tradition and humaneness, animal suffering and vested interests—is back in the spotlight with the Supreme Court rejecting a plea to allow Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu’s bull-taming sport it had banned in 2014.

The ruling has led to uproar in the state, with thousands courting arrest and asking for revocation of the ban, politicians and celebrities offering their support to the event, and animal rights activists saying that the ‘sport’ epitomises cruelty and must be stopped.

Traditionally held during the four-day Pongal festival (celebrated last week), Jallikattu, where the ‘player’ hangs on to the hump of the bull, began as a way to stop the animals from ruining their fields. Over time, it became a way to demonstrate bravery (and getting tagged as such in the marriage market); prize money was introduced and the gladiatorial sport got commercialised.

In a video, animal rights group PETA showed how bulls are tortured. Their tails are cut, the animals are stabbed with sharp objects, and sometimes even given alcohol to blunt their senses. Between 2010 and 2014, 17 people were killed and 1,100 injured.

“Jallikattu exploits the bulls’ natural nervousness as prey animals by deliberately placing them in a terrifying situation in which they’re forced to run away from those they perceive as predators. Countless Tamil PETA India supporters are against Jallikattu and are saddened by those who call harming bulls Tamil ‘culture’. India’s culture is one of kindness, not cruelty,” says PETA’s Nikunj Sharma.

Not just Jallikattu

As protests in Tamil Nadu over ‘tradition and pride’ spiral and thousands gather at various places, including in Chennai’s Marina Beach, activists point out that Jallikattu is not the only such sport. And it’s not about a specific region or religion either. Be it Hindus, Muslims, Christians or tribals, in Himachal Pradesh or Odisha, Tamil Nadu or Maharashtra, all are known to indulge in such rituals.

If animals are sacrificed during Bakr Eid, they are also slaughtered during Durga Pooja and Dussehra celebrations in several parts of India. Besides, buffaloes, cocks, goats, and sheep are ritually sacrificed in the hundreds, and their flesh consumed as prasad.

“Religion should be a force teaching people to remain calm and show kindness towards other living beings, but has instead become a way to justify killing them brutally,” says animal rights activist Navamita Mukherjee. And sometimes, it’s about plain fun.

Like a cock-fight where razor-sharp blades are tied to the legs of roosters that are made to fight while bets are placed. Bred for fighting, these birds are grievously wounded and left untreated after a fight or thrown away as garbage.

In the villages of Andhra Pradesh, however, cock-fight are considered a part of the Makar Sankranti festivities.

Divine sacrifice

Animal sacrifices are performed in many cultures mainly to please the divine. From Greeks to Romans, all have been known to practice it.

In Uttarakhand’s Garhwal region, buffaloes are killed in honour of the goddess Manju Bhog. The animals are bathed and made to run in panic as village youth make them stumble midway. On the main day, they are made to run towards the temple and many die on the steep slopes. Those that manage to reach the top are sacrificed by the villagers.

The Kandha people of Odisha believe that the deity Kandhan Budhi grants them every wish. So, every year during the Kandhan Budhi Yatra (September-October), many animals are ritually sacrificed before the deity. The main crowd pleaser of this yatra, however, is the ‘Ghusuri (pig) uuja’. A young pig is smeared in oil and turmeric after which its ears and tail are chopped off. The pig is killed three years later in the temple.

At the Kedu (buffalo) festival, also in Odisha, the Kondhs similarly anoint a buffalo and tether it to a tree. It is brutally attacked with sharp instruments to the chant of mantras and beating of drums. The animal squeals in agony, its eyes bulging, but is unable to flee. There is a mad rush to hack off pieces of its flesh.

Animals are not the only beings with a such a fate. Bird slaughter is equally rampant. All 32 species of Indian owls are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Nonetheless, there have been numerous instances of birds, which are closely related to goddess Lakshmi according to mythology, being sacrificed on the eve of Diwali, said a doctor at a charity bird hospital in Delhi.

Bulbul fights are also common in Assam during Makar Sakranti. The bird is mutilated after the fight.

The law

According to law, animals can only be slaughtered at a slaughter-house. The only exception is the ritual slaughter during Bakr Eid, which should only involve goats or sheep. However, it is increasingly common to see animals like camels and buffaloes being slaughtered during the festival.

In 2011, a video showing camel slaughter inside Delhi’s Jama Masjid drew the attention of activists. Camels are mostly sourced from Rajasthan, where the animal was granted ‘heritage’ status in 2014. But the animal is sent to places as far as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for slaughter. In September 2016, the Madras High Court passed an interim order just before Bakr Eid to ban camel slaughter for religious purposes.

Suffering not tradition

“Our nation is built on the principle of constitutional morality and thus the constitution comes first. I am glad that animals are finding place in this and slowly and steadily sapient traditions that abuse these innocent beings are getting phased out,” says Jayasimha, lawyer and managing director of Humane Society International, India.

There are eight states in India where strict laws have been passed against animal sacrifice. Though illegal killings have not stopped, they have definitely come down.

While activists continue to fight for animal rights and the government bans certain traditions like Jallikattu that involve animal torture, believers continue to do what they always have—firm in their belief that religion and tradition back them.

The right education and empathy is what is required to help people understand that God does not demand the killing of animals, activists point out.

As Jayasimha put it, “It is hypocrisy to demand human rights for ourselves while refusing to give a basic right of life to other beings.”

Mapping animal cruelty

1. During the Ooru Habba festival in Karnataka, two buffaloes and two goats are sacrificed outside the Bannerghatta National Park near Bengaluru. The animals are pierced with a trident and their blood drunk.

2. Myoko, the monsoon festival, is celebrated by Apatanis—a major tribe of Arunachal Pradesh’s Ziro valley—with a mithun (an important bovine species) being ritually sacrificed on sacred ground by a priest.

3. At the annual Mailapur village fair in Karnataka’s Yadgir district, worshippers throw live lambs at the palanquin of Mailareshwara. In the melee, hundreds of devotees trample and kill the young animals.

4. During the annual rath yatra, about 1,500 goats are sacrificed at the Shree Yedumata Temple in Pimpledari village in Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra. The sacrifice takes place every year, despite protests.

5. In 2012, on Day 17 of the Chithirai month according to the Tamil calendar, 5,000 baby goats were sacrificed during a temple festival at Poosariyur, near Anthiyur in Tamil Nadu. The blood was consumed by the priests and devotees.

6. At the shrine dedicated to the tribal idol Baba Dongar in Ranapur of Madhya Pradesh’s Jhabua district, around 500 animals, typically goats and chicken are illegally slaughtered by priests on devotees’ requests.

7. In 2015, animal rights activist and Union Minister Maneka Gandhi wrote to the Defence Ministry against live animals being air-dropped so troops posted in remote areas were able to get fresh meat.

8. Festivals like Shand and Bhunda involve a huge number of animals being killed using a knife by a man known as Beda to please goddess Kali and to ward off evil spirits, at the entrance of temples near Shimla.

9. In regions around Pune, goats and fowls are sacrificed to the God Vetala. In western Maharashtra, animal sacrifice is practiced to pacify female deities that are supposed to rule the sacred groves.

10. In West Bengal’s Kalighat, thousands of sheep are sacrificed every year. In other parts too, a priest recites the Gayatri Mantra in the ear of the animal to be sacrificed in order to free the animal from the cycle of life and death.

11. Nihangs and Hazuri Sikhs sacrifice goats during the festivals of Diwali and Hola Mohalla and distribute it as mahaprashad among the congregates. Anyone converting to a Nihang Sikh has to sacrifice an animal.

12. In Terekol of Goa, the barbaric custom of teenage boys biting a piglet to death in celebration of St John’s baptism ended in 1989 following protests by animal rights activists, charitable trusts and NGOs. – DNA, 19 January 2016

» Cheena Kapoor is a senior photo journalist for DNA and Zee in New Delhi.