People hold a poster of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to protest against the ban on Jallikattu by Supreme Court in Chennai, India, Jan. 20, 2017. Protests demanding lifting of ban on Jallikattu, a bullfighting sport Friday intensified with crowds swelling in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu for the fourth straight day. (Xinhua/Stringer)
NEW DELHI, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Protests demanding lifting of ban on Jallikattu, a bullfighting sport Friday intensified with crowds swelling in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu for the fourth straight day.
Thousands of people including youth and women throng Marina beach in Chennai, capital city of Tamil Nadu, demanding the government to scrap the ban imposed by India's apex court on Jallikattu.
The crowds seeking lifting of ban assembled on the beach on Tuesday and since then continue to stay shouting slogans and holding placards advocating resumption of Jallikattu.
A strike call has been given by traders, transporters and other bodies in support of the protest in the state.
Opposition political parties threatened to impose rail blockade for the day, forcing railway officials to divert several trains through alternate routes.
Artistes and film personalities are supporting the protesters. India's Oscar-winning music composer A. R. Rahman Thursday announced that he will observe fast to lend support to the cause.
"I'm fasting tomorrow to support the spirit of Tamil Nadu," Rahman wrote on twitter.
Another superstar Rajinikanth participated in the protest against the ban.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam has urged protesters to withdraw the agitation saying the state will use an ordinance or executive order to bring Jallikattu back within two days.
"To take up the draft of the amendment further with the union government, I have deputed senior officials of the state to work with the center," Panneerselvam said. "I believe the draft would be approved in one or two days which will pave way for Jalikattu."
However, protesters say they would not move from Marina beach unless government comes up with a formal order.
On Thursday, Panneerselvam met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue.
Jallikattu has been banned since 2014 after animal rights activists seeking prevention of cruelty to animals cited to India's top court that bulls in the sport were "severely harmed".
Last year, India's federal government amended its order and issued a notification saying bulls may continue to be exhibited or trained as a performing animal, at events such as Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu subject to conditions and proper supervision. The government order evoked strong condemnation from animal rights bodies.
However, the Supreme Court of India upheld the ban in 2016 and suspended the federal government notification of allowing Jallikattu after various bodies including Animal Welfare Board of India filed petitions to challenge it.
Following the ban, no major Jallikattu events were organized.
The sport was traditionally practised as part of the harvest festival of Pongal. Jallikattu involves men chasing bull attempting to grab its hump and ride it for as long as possible or stop it and remove piece of cloth affixed to its horns.
Over the years, many people have been gored or trampled to death during the sport. Even bulls suffer injures and sometimes get killed in such contests.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a U.S.-based animal rights organization, says people have been found inflicting cruelty on the bulls during Jallikatu.
"PETA is not against Jallikatu but we are against cruelty to animals as a whole," Nikunj Sharma, spokesperson for PETA in India said. "We presented facts to the Supreme Court, where in judges decided as per their wisdom."