A man is silhouetted against the setting sun as he races a pair of buffaloes while participating in Kambala/Reuters
New Delhi: On a day the Karnataka Assembly passed a bill to legalise traditional buffalo race Kambala, animal rights body PETA on Monday said allowing this "cruelty" to be afflicted on animals is "shameful" and leaves a "black mark" on India.
PETA said India has long enjoyed the admiration of nations for its cultural reverence for animals rights but today it moved "backward" when other countries are progressing by banning the use of animals in circuses, bullfights, and other "cruel" spectacles.
"Allowing this cruelty to animals is a shameful black mark on our nation," Poorva Joshipura, CEO People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, said.
Bowing to the public pressure and in the backdrop of Tamil Nadu government allowing Jallikattu after huge protests, Karnataka Assembly on Monday passed a bill to legalise buffalo race Kambala and bullock cart race.
All parties backed the move in the Assembly.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, was amended in its application to Karnataka by the bill which was tabled after the clamour for Kambala grew.
Poorva said the decision to allow Jallikattu has had dire consequences not just for bulls who are "tormented sometimes to death" but also for the more than 5,000 people who were injured or killed during this sport in a span of six years.
She said most Indian citizens abhor cruelty to animals but some have been calling for legalisation of events such as bull and buffalo races.
The PETA India CEO said that during such races, animals are often hit with nail-studded sticks and not treated nicely.
She said examples of sports like cockfights, in which knives are often tied to roosters' feet to make fights bloodier, and bulbul bird fights for which birds are trapped and fed intoxicants, prove that they are subjected to cruelty.
Cruelties inherent in these events violate the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, she said.
"A total of 65 non-cognisable offence complaints and one FIR were filed at just three events inspected by the government body Animal Welfare Board of India during Kambala events in 2014 and 2015," she said.