Decks were cleared on Friday night for an ordinance on Jallikattu after Tamil Nadu and the Centre worked feverishly even as the state stood on the edge and protesters on Marina beach and elsewhere refused to relent until the sport is held.
Tamil Nadu was brought to a standstill by a shutdown on the fifth day of the protest by students, youths and other sections demanding immediate staging of the traditional bull-taming sport in Alanganallur, epicentre of the of Jallikattu, and other places.
They said they welcome the efforts to promulgate an ordinance for allowing the sport but they would not withdraw the agitation until the event is held.
A draft ordinance prepared by the Tamil Nadu government was vetted by the Home Ministry. It was late in the night approved by the Ministries of Law and Environment for President’s assent.
Earlier, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who stayed back in the national capital on Thursday after his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced in the morning that the state government would issue an ordinance in a day or two to allow Jallikattu.
A draft of the ordinance has already been given to the Union Home Ministry for getting President’s consent after which the Governor would issue it.
“After getting the assent of President Pranab Mukherjee tomorrow, an ordinance will be promulgated by our Governor to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,” he said on his arrival in Chennai. He said legal steps would be taken to remove “all obstacles” in the way of holding the sport.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on whom a large delegation of AIADMK MPs called, Environment Minister Anil Dave and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad gave assurances of early steps by the Centre to resolve the issue soon.
Parallely, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court that the Centre was in talks with Tamil Nadu to find a way out in the matter after which the court agreed not to pass judgement for a week on the Jallikattu issue.
With the Centre drawing flak, BJP sought to project that its government was actively engaged in resolving the issue.
The Law Minister said he has held discussions with BJP president Amit Shah on the issue, while Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan and Tamil Nadu BJP chief Tamilisai Soundarajan flanked Dave when he met the media.
Though political parties have been kept away from the ‘youth uprising’, main opposition party DMK staged state-wide rail roko agitation, with its Working President MK Stalin leading the protests by squatting on tracks in Mambalam. Stalin and Kanimozhi besides many DMK workers were arrested.
Stalin has also announced that he will observe a day long fast on Saturday.
The call for general strike by various trade unions including those affiliated to DMK and the Left parties besides section of traders bodies led to a shutdown with shops and business establishments downing shutters and schools and colleges remaining closed across the state.
The Tamil film industry expressed solidarity with Jallikattu supporters, with top actors and actresses joining a silent protest. Film shootings were suspended for the day.
Superstar Rajinikanth, actors Ajit Kumar, Surya, Siva Karthikeyan besides actress Trisha, who had faced flak from the pro-Jallikattu groups for her perceived opposition to the sport by reportedly being associated with PETA, joined the silent protest.
Autos and call taxis kept off the roads even as few government buses plied on the roads.
Banking operations took a hit with workers taking part in protests. Employees of various IT companies held placards and banners with slogans against NGO People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Many inter and intra-state trains were fully and partially cancelled while some others were diverted. The suburban EMU services ran late.
In Chennai, all roads led to Marina beach with men and women, clad in black, besides children joining the protest that has transcended political and other differences.