Thursday 25 July 2024

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Centre planning legal dhirio


Bull fights, one of the tourist attractions in Goa, is likely to re-emerge in a more organised and legal manner, after the court had banned it since last October under the provisions of cruelty to animals act, thanks to the efforts of the local congress government and the united front government in Delhi.

The union law ministry, headed by union law minister Ramakant Khalap, the MP from North Goa, has decided to provide legal protection to the bull fights, more popularly known as dhirio, bowing down before the pressure of over five lakh dhirio lovers, which comprises around 40 per cent of Goa's population.

Former union minister Maneka Gandhi's people for animals got it banned, describing it as a cruel entertainment, in which the fighter bulls get injured and even get killed sometimes, while the spectators also got killed occasionally. All the efforts of the bull owners to intervene and argue that it is a popular sport proved futile, while the supreme court also later on endorsed the high court order.

"Inciting any animal to fight any other animal with a view to providing entertainment or organising, using or acting in the management of, any place for animal fighting or for the purpose of the baiting any animal or permitting or offering any place to be so used and causing cruelty of other nature to the animals is clearly prohibited by section 11 of the prevention of cruelty to animals act", stated the historical judgement.

Though the legal battle was lost, the bull owners seem to be in the victorious mood on the political front. More than love for the game, it has become question of political survival for all the political parties here, if dhirio are not revived.

"Actually I am opposed in principle to starting dhirio back again. But my people are suffering due to sudden ban", states Luizinho Faleiro, the state industries minister, who took initiative in the state government to amend the act.

The plan is to call it a sport, and not a fight, played to test each others' strength and stamina. If the plan succeeds, then dhirio would be then held at a well-built stadium, in an organised manner. Even the injuries, which the fighter bulls get occasionally, would be treated immediately with a veterinary doctor permanently recruited at the stadium.

"The bull fights are still held in Kerala while cock fights are held all over the country. Why then we also should not allow the entertaining sport in a legalised manner", asks Chandrakant Chodankar, the animal husbandry minister.

The Pratapsing Rane government has now unanimously decided to amend section 11 (3) of the cruelty to animals act, 1968, adding a new clause to it, describing dhirio as "traditional, popular, unique sport, where bulls are trained properly by owners to fight each other and to develop their strength and stamina".

It has been forwarded to the union law ministry as the act falls into a concurrent list and requires assent from the centre as well. But the union law minister, representing the coalition government at the centre, has to overcome the legal hurdles. The result can also be negative, fear the bull owners, who have also lost the second season of dhirio.

"I have told them to propose such an amendment that it cannot be legally objected to. We can certainly allow a sport which is played to develop strength and stamina", states Khalap. To canvass for the proposal is also prepared south Goa MP Churchill Alemao, Khalap's arch rival otherwise, who personally owns a champion fighter bull.

The bull fights are more popular in four talukas of Salcete (South Goa), Tiswadi, Bardez and Pernem (all North Goa), for which all the three political parties headed by Rane, Khalap and Alemao are vying for. Over 80 per cent population here are dhirio fans while it's a livelihood for many families.

Taking note of the resentment among thousands of families owning fighter bulls, the government has also stated that it's a source of livelihood for a large section of population, who maintain and nourish them. It also involves no cruelty. Injury is an occasional feature, which is treated immediately, claims the local government.

Dhirio are still popular in over 100 villages spread along the Goan coastline. Over 2000 people have been nourishing them, spending between Rs 50,000 to Rs one lakh each annually and training them specially for the fights.

The show of dhirio, held on every weekend, pulled a crowd of around 4000. While fighter bulls were paid between Rs 3000 to Rs 70,000, it involved lakhs of rupees of turnover. It was also a major tourist attraction here.

Judging the popularity, it slowly took a commercial shape with underworld intellectuals combining gambling with it, while the police was taken on their 'pay roll'.

But it all came to an end when the high court, responding to the PFA's petition, stayed the traditional bull fights from October last, pending disposal. The local bench of Mumbai high court confirmed its order in December while the supreme court also later rejected the review petition. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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