KOZHIKODE: The ongoing protests in Tamil Nadu demanding amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act have brought cheer to the lovers of Kaalapoottu, the traditional bull race in Malabar.
If the Act is amended, with permission to use bulls as performing animals, the popular sport will hold sway after a break in the paddy fields in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Palakkad.
“The ban on using bulls as performing animals has affected the traditional sport.The protest (demanding PCA Act amendmets) has given a ray of hope as it will pave the way for an amendment,” said Kolakkadan Abdul Nasar, general secretary, Malabar Mekhala Karshika Vinoda Committee.
It was following the Supreme Court order dated May 7, 2014, that a ban had been slapped on the sport which has a huge following in Northern Kerala.
Despite the ban, ‘Kaalapoottu’ continues to be staged in Malappuram. However,the number of ‘Kaalapoottu’ events has gone down after the organisers started to face legal action. “Before the apex court order, Malabar hosted at least 30 events in a season.
The number has gone down to six due to police intervention,” Nasar said. In 2015, cases were registered against 27 persons in Kalikavu, Kondotty and Parappanangadi for organising Kaalapoottu. “Kaalapoottu is still staged. But we are scared of police action. During the last season, some of the events were interrupted following police intervention,” complained committee joint secretary Kuruniyan Mon.
In September 2015, the Kerala High Court also held that the Centre’s notification prohibiting the use of bulls as performing animals was applicable to Kaalapoottu after an appeal was filed by a group of organisations challenging the ban imposed on Kaalapoottu. The court had cited the injuries suffered by the participants as grounds for enforcing a blanket ban.
In June,2016, a delegation of Kaalapoottu lovers had approached Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking his support to revive the traditional sport.Kaalapoottu lovers, meanwhile, deny anykind of cruelty to the animals during the sport.
“There would be a gap of at least 15 days between two events. And the bull has to race for a maximum 75 seconds in an event,” said V V Musthafa, a bull owner from Kanmanam in Malappuram.