Karnataka state assembly legalizes Kambala

BENGALURU: The Karnataka state legislature on Monday legalized Kambala, bull runs and bullock cart races as traditional sports and exempted them from the prevention of cruelty to animals act, by amending it with a legislation.

However, the bill was carefully worded and said there should be no harm to the animals.

The bill, passed unanimously by the state assembly, said, “Notwithstanding anything…conduct of “Kambala” or “Bulls race or Bullock cart race” shall be permitted, subject to condition that no unnecessary pain or suffering is caused to the animals, by the person incharge of that animal used to conduct “Kambala” or “Bulls race or Bullock cart race” as the case may be and subject to such other conditions, as may be prescribed.”

Having moved the bill, animal husbandry minister A Manju sought the assistance of the BJP legislators to secure a quick assent from the home ministry at the centre and the subsequent authorization of the President of India.

“While we may have brought the legislation, I urge upon you (BJP) to get the center’s assent, considering it is your party, as early as possible,” he said.

Earlier, opposition leader Jagadish Shettar said the government’s decision was a welcome move and said the judiciary must deliberate and discuss such cases at length before arriving at any decisions on such sensitive matters.

“The allegations of harming animals were just excuse for traditional sports to be barred. Just because there was a complaint, does not entitle the judiciary to completley ban such sports,” he said.

BJP legislator S Suresh Kumar said the act of banning the sport was a classic case of “judicial over reach”.

Cutting across partylines, the Dakshina Kannada legislators said the bill to legalise the sport, which is rooted in their tradition for hundreds of years, was much required.

“As far as cruelty of animals in Kambala goes, the bullocks are treated by their owners as much more of a child than their own children. They are fed like kings and, barring some 26 days of the race, they are kept very comfortably,” said Congress legislator Shakuntala Shetty.

BJP legislator from Karkala, V Sunill Kumar said people should not equate Kambala with Jallikattu.

“While we have hundreds of cases of deaths in Jallikattu, there has been not a single incident of death recorded in Kambala be it the racer or the animal,” he said.

The bill defines the sport of bull races and bullock cart races as “any form of bulls race including race of bullock cart as a traditional sports involving bulls whether tied to cart with the help of wooden yoke or not (in whatever name called) normally held as a part of the tradition and culture in the state on such days and places, as my be notified by the state government.”

PETA’s reaction:

Reacting to the legalisation of Kambala, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has said that, ” allowing this cruelty to animals is a shameful black mark on our nation.”

PETA has said as many as 65 non-cognisable offences and one FIR have been filed at just three events inspected by the government body Animal Welfare Board of India during Kambala events in 2014 and 2015.

They claimed the inspection reports contain a scientific assessment of the welfare of buffaloes when they are forced to participate in such events, including photographic evidence and a description of different forms of cruelty inflicted on the animals, such as being subjected to verbal abuse and physical force – including shouting, hitting with hands, slapping on the face, violent pulling of thick nose ropes (in some cases two or three nose ropes inserted through the same hole in the nasal septum), rough handling by pushing and pulling the animal, overpowering, tail pulling, and restricting the movements of the head using a wooden pole tied to the horns.

Many of the buffaloes observed frothed at the mouth, salivated heavily, and displayed increased respiration rates, demonstrating that they are anatomically unfit to be forced to take part, said PETA.

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