Cruelty on a Massive Scale
The investigators gathered photo and video evidence of many forms of abuse. The participants yanked bulls by ropes threaded through their nasal septums. Among other cruel acts, they twisted their tails, tackled them, and poked and hit them with metal sickles and wooden sticks that were often studded with nails.
At the three large events held during Pongal, exhausted and dehydrated animals were forced to participate in jallikattu after being made to stand for several hours in queues without shelter or adequate food or water. They were tugged so roughly by nose ropes that their nostrils bled, and many collapsed from exhaustion and thirst before and after the ordeal of running through the arena.
Onlookers and spectators at the three events were filmed illegally pouncing on the bulls. Boisterous spectators jumped onto bulls and held onto their humps inside and outside the collection yards. This violation went particularly unchecked in Avaniapuram and Palamedu. In Avaniapuram, men were observed drinking alcohol and then, in an inebriated state, attempting to pounce on the bulls fleeing the collection yard.
Healthcare professionals had called on Tamil Nadu officials to ban jallikattu events in 2021 because of the COVID-19 risk, but the events were allowed to proceed in accordance with pandemic safety precautions. However, the restrictions issued by the state government were brazenly flouted by everyone involved. The maximum number of registered participants (300) was exceeded at each event, viewing galleries in the arenas were packed to full capacity instead of the mandated 50%, and spectators neither wore face masks nor maintained social distancing. Thermal screening wasn’t conducted at any of the venues, either.
Laws Openly Ignored
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017; the Tamil Nadu PCA (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules, 2017; and the Animal Welfare Board of India’s 2018 jallikattu guidelines were all blatantly flouted at all three events.
There was virtually no food, drinking water, or shelter for the bulls in the collection yards at any of the three events. What was there was grossly insufficient.
The rule mandating that bulls be rested for a minimum of 20 minutes before being forced into the arena was not imposed, and not a single bull in the three events was allowed to rest. Many were brought to the grounds the night before and forced to stand in the queue overnight – for up to 16 hours.
While it’s against the law to make injured animals participate, at every event, bulls with visible injuries or mutilations such as cut ears were found in the queue for the vaadi vaasal, the narrow entrance to the arena. This point is beyond the medical examination area, where they should have been rejected. Investigators recorded bulls with bleeding nostrils entering the arena. A bull in Avaniapuram was filmed limping into the arena because of a fractured foreleg, yet he was still tackled by a participant.
The Tamil Nadu PCA (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules, 2017, requires that jallikattu be conducted in an open ground. However, in Alanganallur and Avaniapuram, events were held in narrow lanes in the residential centres of each village. The sharp turns and winding tracks caused numerous bulls to fall and crash into barricades.
According to the safety precautions set out by the Tamil Nadu government, only those who produced a negative COVID-19 test result should have been allowed to participate. However, an unknown number of unregistered entrants at all three jallikattu events illegally impersonated registered participants by swapping jerseys with them in an attempt to win prizes. Even the man named “best tamer” at the Alanganallur event was reportedly found guilty of impersonation.
Numerous other regulations pertaining to the arenas, collection yards, veterinary checks, provision of food and water, space requirements, hygiene, spectator galleries, and more were brazenly ignored by participants, district administration officials, and the police department. No one was held accountable for these blatant violations.
How Many More Must Suffer and Die?
Deaths of both bulls and humans at jallikattu events skyrocketed this year. Between January and March, the media reported that eight bulls were injured and at least one was killed, while 1,119 humans were injured and at least 14 died.
The real figures are almost certainly far higher, because not all injuries and deaths are reported in the news, especially the deaths and injuries of animals and human deaths that occur after an event is over or in remote villages.
It’s Time for Jallikattu to End!
PETA India’s most recent investigation has proved that no amount of regulation can eliminate cruelty during jallikattu, as the very purpose of this violent spectacle is to terrify and taunt animals and to subject them to immense physical and mental trauma. PETA India has filed a petition with the Supreme Court of India seeking to repeal the PCA (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017 – a state law that exempts it from the federal regulations in the PCA Act, 1960, in order to permit the continuation of jallikattu.
You can help by signing the appeal below.
The compiled signatures will be delivered to the chief minister of Tamil Nadu
Dear Chief Minister,
I was deeply saddened to learn about the cruelty inflicted on bulls during jallikattu events in Tamil Nadu.
PETA India conducted a comprehensive investigation into three jallikattu events in Madurai district in Tamil Nadu in January, and – like the findings of previous investigations – documented that bulls were forced to endure overwhelming physical and mental cruelty. Jallikattu exploits bulls’ natural skittishness by deliberately placing them in a terrifying situation from which they’re desperate to run away. They become so frightened by the mob of men who swarm them that they slip, fall, and run into barriers and traffic in their frantic attempts to escape – frequently leading to broken bones or death.
It’s been proved once again that no amount of regulation can eliminate cruelty during jallikattu, as the very purpose of this violent spectacle is to torment and taunt bulls and to subject them to immense physical and mental trauma.
In fact, since the Tamil Nadu government legalised jallikattu in 2017, at least 21 bulls, a cow, and 69 humans have died and 4,696 humans were injured at events organised throughout the state, according to calculations from various news reports. As bull deaths and even many human injuries aren’t always covered by the media, the real figures are likely to be much higher.
I request that you review the findings of these investigations, represent the facts of this issue in all forums, and support a ban on these cruel events by repealing the PCA (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, so that countless human and animal lives can be spared.