January 29, 2017 4:39:41 am
NEARLY 10,000 people led more than 150 buffaloes in a protest march at Moodbidri area of Dakshina Kannada district in coastal Karnataka on Saturday to demand legalisation of Kambala, a traditional buffalo racing sport popular in the region. Reacting to the protests, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the state government will take necessary steps to ensure that a popular and cultural event such as Kambala is held, as per people’s wish.
While organisers of the protest, under Dakshina Kannada Kambala Samiti, had intended to hold a Kambala race to defy a November 22, 2016 Karnataka High Court order banning the sport, local authorities dissuaded the organisers against violating court order.
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Among those who participated in the protest was local Congress MLA Abhaychandra Jain, BJP Member of Parliament Nalin Kumar Kateel and several politicians and public personalities.
The protesters are demanding an ordinance on the lines of Jallikattu ordinance in Tamil Nadu to legalise Kambala events, held between November and March every year before it was barred.
“This is a symbolic protest with buffaloes that are bred for Kambala —- a sport that has been part of our culture for centuries. We want the Central government to support us in the same way that it supported Tamil Nadu with respect to Jallikattu,’’ Jain, the Congress MLA from Moodbidri and a former minister, said.
Jain is leading the Kambala committee in Moodbidri. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has asked for support from the Centre in view of the public protests.
Saturday’s march covered a 3-km route near Moodbidri-Karkala national highway and concluded at Kadalakere Nisargadhama. Speakers later said that Kambala should not be viewed as a sport involving violence against animals but as a cultural practice linked to agriculture in the region that has been held for more than 700 years.
“There is no violence in Kambala,” former minister Amarnath Shetty said. “We respect the law but we are not prepared to give up Kambala. The government should issue an ordinance to make it legal.”
Protesters also called for a ban on the animal rights organisation PETA, on whose plea Kambala was banned.
PETA’s India CEO Poorva Joshipura said in a statement, “Calling for a ban on PETA India would be akin to calling for a ban on a child protection organisation that saves children from illegal trafficking…. It is time to ask ourselves what kind of country we want. One in which mob rule decides laws and court verdicts don’t matter, and where bullies call for dissolution of a lawful organisation with an impeccable record of good deeds?”
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