CHENNAI: In support of the thousands of students, young professionals and others on a Jallikattu protest at Chennai’s Marina beach, Tamil Nadu’s top actors will spend an entire working day in silent assembly tomorrow. Among those expected to participate is superstar Rajinikanth, who has spoken in support of lifting a ban on the ancient bull-taming festival of Jallikattu.
The actors will gather in the compound of the film artist association office in Chennai’s T Nagar from 8 am.
The city’s lawyers and traders say they will also support protest tomorrow to demand that the ban on Jallikattu be removed. Markets may remain closed on Friday and autorickshaws and taxis may go off the roads too, with transport employees expected to announce a strike.
At Marina Beach, thousands of people have gathered in peaceful protest since Tuesday demanding a return of Jallikattu, banned by the Supreme Court in 2014. They have set the state government a deadline of 5 pm today to announce what steps it will take to meet their demands.
The onus shifted on the state government after Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated at a meeting with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam today that the centre will not issue an ordinance or executive order to remove the ban, pointing out that the matter is “sub-judice” or in court.
The Chennai protesters have drawn support from actors, cricketers and other celebrities, but have kept politicians away from their movement, asking those to visited the protest site, like DMK leader MK Stalin, to leave.
Tamil film stars like Suriya Sivakumar and Vijay have also joined the protesters in attacking animal rights organisation PETA and demanding that it be banished from the state. PETA has strongly opposed Jallikattu alleging that it is cruel to animals.
“The group called PETA which won in the court of law by carrying out a campaign of lies that Jallikattu was inimical to bulls has lost in the people’s court,” said Suriya Sivakumar, calling the protests across the state a reflection of the mood of the people of Tamil Nadu.
Actor Vijay has in a video message welcomed the protests saying people are agitating “without any political differences.”
Chess Grand Master Viswanathan Anand also tweeted his support. jallikattu is a cultural symbol . Respect it. Im all for animal rights but here that is not the point.tradition & livelihood are.