Chennai: Three days from the harvest festival of Pongal, Tamil Nadu today is on the boil – with anger over Jallikattu erupting into protests all over the State and anguish over farmers’ distress as the farming community rejected the TN government’s “insulting” compensation.
If farmers are planning to have a low key “black Pongal,” people from all walks of life have come out strongly demanding the holding of Jallikattu that has suddenly assumed the centre stage of politics with the Centre being dragged into it.
Farmers’ leaders have dubbed the meagre compensation for crop loss of Rs. 5,465 per acre an insult to the farmers. They declared that it would be a black Pongal that they will observe this time around. The entire political class is united and supports the farming community.
But along with this, the other theme that unites all the political parties, diametrically opposed to one another, is Jallikattu – the traditional sport of bull-taming that has been celebrated for centuries. People from different walks of life held protests in several cities and towns demanding the holding of the ancient sport.
For example, in Tirunelveli, police had given permission for a protest programme but thousands turned up for the demonstration. Similar was the response all over the State, including Chennai, where the youth was out in the forefront of raising a vociferous demand for celebrating the festival as has been done for centuries.
In Madurai, police lathicharged demonstrators seeking lifting the ban on Jallikattu.
“It is an assault on the culture and traditions of Tamil Nadu,” said S Karthick, a young professional and owner of a prize bull himself, adding why are not all sports and exhibitions involving animals banned — like polo, horse racing and even temples owning elephants.
Chief Minister O Panneerselvam asserted that Jallikattu will surely be held, even as AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to promulgate an ordinance to facilitate Jallikattu.
A delegation of AIADMK MPs also called on the Prime Minister in New Delhi today.
Film stars too lent support to this Tamil cause – Kamal Haasan and Dhanush – came out publicly demanding that the traditional sport be held.
DMK Working President MK Stalin has lashed out at the Tamil Nadu government for its inability to impress upon the Centre to get the ordinance passed for holding Jallikattu.