New Delhi/Chennai: The central government on Friday evening gave its nod to the Tamil Nadu government's ordinance to enable holding of Jallikattu, as the southern state saw continued massive protests in support of the bull-taming sport.
Officials in New Delhi said the Home Ministry cleared the ordinance after the Law Ministry nod to the draft ordinance of the Tamil Nadu government.
They said the Centre's concurrence paved the way for the promulgation of the ordinance in Tamil Nadu.
Amid massive protests demanding the holding of Jallikattu in his state, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam told reporters in the national capital earlier on Friday that his government will promulgate the ordinance for facilitating Jallikattu.
The Chief Minister said the state government had drafted an amendment to some provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and sent it to the central government.
He said the ordinance will be promulgated after Governor C.H. Vidyasagar Rao approves it, following which Jallikattu can be held in the state.
Though the Chief Minister urged the demonstrators to withdraw their protests, the swarming mass of youths at Chennai's Marina Beach and in Madurai declared they will end their demonstration only after the sport is held.
"We will call off the protest only after Jallikattu is held in Tamil Nadu. The measure announced by the Chief Minister seems to be a stop-gap arrangement. The permanent solution is that the central government by a notification remove bulls from the list of performing animals given in The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act," said a protester.
Even several hours after Panneerselvam's announcement, the number of protesters at Marina beach continued to swell.
In several localities groups of youths carrying placards assembled while beating drums.
Many young people, including couples with children in tow, gathered at the Marina Beach.
"Jallikattu is Tamil Nadu's identity and pride. We want Jallikattu," Venkatesh, employed in a private company, told IANS while moving towards Marina with his family.
His daughter and son were carrying a "We want Jallikattu" placard.
"The student protest is the culmination of the stand taken by the central government on various issues concerning Tamil Nadu, like the Cauvery river water sharing, attacks on Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, Jallikattu," R. Arul, Secretary, Pasumai Thayagam, a non-government organisation (NGO), told IANS.
Meanwhile, the DMK held protests on rail tracks in Tamil Nadu and its Working President M.K. Stalin was detained by police for some time.
In some districts schools were also closed while shops downed their shutters across the state in support of Jallikattu.
The Supreme Court in May 2014 banned Jallikattu, saying that bulls cannot be used as performing animals including bullock-cart races.
Since then, people have been urging the central government to take steps to allow the sport.
On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed not to pronounce its verdict on Jallikattu for one week in the wake of large scale protests in Tamil Nadu.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra agreed to put the pronouncement on hold on a plea by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who told the court that "cultural passions" were running high in the state.
The apex court had in 2016 reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions by animal rights activist and organisations challenging a January 7, 2016, government notification taking out bulls from the list of animals that cannot be exhibited or used for fights or races.
The notification was then stayed by the top court a week after its issuance.
The court was informed that both the Centre and Tamil Nadu were in touch and some measures were being taken to tackle the situation that surfaced in light of the harvest festival of Pongal in which the ancient animal sport has special significance.