According to several Facebook users, thousands of people in Singapore protested the Jallikattu ban in India. Facebook user Babu Dilip estimated the number of protesters at the Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park to be 5,000.
Facebook user Thamil Selvan said that most of the protesters were nationals from India.
The Police had earlier issued an advisory on 19 Jan that they are aware of plans to hold ‘Jallikattu’ related events in Singapore and that (besides the exemptions granted to events organised in Speakers’ Corner by and for Singapore citizens and permanent residents) organising or participating in a public assembly without a police permit in Singapore is illegal and constitutes an offence under the Public Order Act.
They further warned that foreigners who break the law will be dealt with firmly, which may include termination of work passes and visa.
An organiser of the protest event at Speakers’ Corner, Habib Mohamed, said that he was advised by a police officer prior to the event that the event should be exclusively for citizens and permanent residents. It is unclear how the Police advised organisers to ensure this.
A cursory search on Facebook reveals that many of the participants were indeed Indian nationals. It is however unclear if they are work pass holders or permanent residents.
Facebook user Mahendiran Arun said that workers from his company attended the protest in Hong Lim Park.
In 2014, the Police investigated several foreigners who participated in the “Singapore in Solidarity with HK event” at the Speakers’ Corner. It was reported late last year that the Police rounded up attendees at a Malaysian Bersih solidarity event at Hong Lim Park for questioning.
Jallikattu is a socially explosive issue which has divided Tamil Nadu from the rest of India. The people of Tamil Nadu are upset that the Supreme Court of India has revoked an exemption to the Jallikattu practice just before the 2016 Pongal festival and have taken to the streets to challenge the ban.
During Jallikattu, bulls are released from pens, with participants challenged to hold on to the animal’s hump for as long as possible in an attempt to bring the bucking animal to a halt. In Tamil Nadu, bulls are bred specifically for this event. The untameable bulls from the event are deemed to have better genes and are used especially for breeding, while the tamed ones are used for domestic activities and agriculture.
In 2014, the Supreme Court of India banned Jallikattu after the Animal Welfare Board of India citing extensive evidence of torture and cruelty to the animals petitioned it. The reinstatement of the ban just before Pongal effectively reinforced the earlier Court ruling, leading to protests all over Tamil Nadu.
Political analysts from India have said that the anger expressed at the ban by the people of Tamil Nadu was reminiscent of the anti-central-government sentiments in the late 1960s after Hindi was made the official language of the country.
With the political parties from Tamil Nadu supporting pro-Jallikattu groups, the protests have intensified over the past few days, posing a big challenge for Narendra Modi’s Central government of India.
The protests on the ban have also transcended the physical boundary of Tamil Nadu and is being observed in other countries where there is a huge presence of the Tamil community.