We reported yesterday that the Jallikattu controversy and protests from India threatened to spillover into Singapore and that a flyer was being widely circulated in social media urging the Tamils in Singapore to assemble in Sembawang Park to express their displeasure with the ban in that country (https://theindependent.sg.sg/jallikattu-protests-which-has-divided-india-threatens-to-spill-over-into-singapore).
It has since emerged that a social media group has been established to sympathise with and support the protests against the Jallikattu ban in India. The Facebook page ‘Save Jallikattu Singapore‘ aggregates videos and pictures of protests that are happening all over Singapore in support of the protests in India.
From the pictures and videos on the Page, it seems that the protests have been happening in various construction sites and dormitories where the foreign workers from Tamil Nadu live and work.
Since the report on this publication about the planned protests in Singapore, the Police yesterday (19 Jan) released an advisory saying that they are aware of plans to hold ‘Jallikattu’ related event at the Speakers’ Corner and other locations in Singapore and that organising or participating in a public assembly without a police permit in Singapore is illegal and constitutes an offence under the Public Order Act.
The Police further warned that foreigners who break the law will be dealt with firmly, which may include termination of work passes and visa.
The ‘Save Jallikattu Singapore’ group shared the police advisory on its Facebook page, but claimed that it had permission to hold the protest in Hong Lim Park.
From a screenshot of the approval to demonstrate at Speakers’ Corner shared in its Facebook, it seems that the organiser of the event is Sheikh Syed Ismail from Silver Screen International Pte Ltd.
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.