Friday, 5 August 2011

Bull-fights in Goa to become history

Panaji: With the Environment Ministry banning use of bulls as performing animals, several traditional games, including bull-fights in Goa, will now become a part of history.

In fact, bull-fights in the state have already been banned by the Bombay High Court in 1996, even though they are illegally being held at some places in the state.

The MoEF notification will also cease political attempts in Goa to revive bull fights, which are enjoyed in the coastal taluka of Salcette. 

Animal rights organisation Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) has welcomed the move.

MoEF issued the notification on July 11, 2011, which added bull in the list of animals including bear, monkey, tiger, panther and lion that cannot be trained or used as a performing animal under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960.

Bull-fights were popular in Goa's coastal belt before they were banned by the Bombay High Court in 1996. The court had cited cruelty to animals as the reason for the ban. However, bull fights continue to be held at some places illegally.

Goa Legislative Assembly had moved a Bill in 2009 to legalise bull fights, which could not get assent of the Governor.

MP Fransisco Sardinha had also tried to move an amendment in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act in 2009 to legalise bull fighting. But the attempt was opposed by many including former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh. 

The recent notification, however, is supported by FIAPO, which is an umbrella organisation of animal welfare groups in India.

"Bulls now cannot be made to perform in events like Jallikattu and Rekla races in south India and the Dhirio of Goa and in any form of cinematography," said Dr Chinny Krishna, the chairman of FIAPO.

He said this is a landmark development for bulls and we compliment the ministry for this initiative.

"Hundreds of bulls are tortured in barbaric events like Jallikattu and Rekla races in south India and the Dhirio of Goa. With this notification, bulls are to be considered performing animals for the purpose of such events," he said.

FIAPO has said that bulls in various parts of the country are routinely exploited and abused for races and other forms of performance.

"They are made to take part in cruel cart races in villages and towns across the country. Most of these races typically inflict pain and suffering on the animals," Krishna said.

He said FIAPO and its member organisations have often received complaints that during these races, the cart drivers poke the animals in their sensitive parts with nails and sticks, whip them mercilessly and even drug them with alcohol, all in order to make them run faster than the other.

"Every year, in certain districts of Tamil Nadu, people chase and taunt bulls for fun in a cruel "game" called Jallikattu. During these events, large groups of men and boys throw themselves on top of a bull in an effort to 'tame' him and grab a prize," he said.

My take

Bull fights are called dhirio in the local language. The fight is between two bulls who are aggravated by owners and the spectators. Not only the bulls but the spectators are also known to get harmed. Such events also promote gambling and betting on a large scale. The promoters always put forward a defense stating that it is a traditional sport. The local politicians organize and promote these events with the hope of winning votes from the people. 

Kudos to the Ministry of Environment and Forest! This notification comes in as a huge relief for the activists and countless bulls which are tortured and killed in the name of ‘tradition’.

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