Mangaluru, Feb 11, 2017: Call it a Jallikattu effect or just plain love for Kambala- Dakshina Kannada was up in arms recently in support of Kambala with thousands uniting for the cause and taking to the streets.
The coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi witness at least four dozen Kambala events during the Kambala season that usually falls between November and March. Hundreds of people young and old, both from towns and villages gather to watch this spectacular sport with enthusiasm abound. One can find a rural –urban connect in Kambala which bonds the urbans with a traditional sport just like the rurals.
But this year, Kambala is caught in a legal wrangle and thousands of Kambala fans are anticipating a favourable verdict from the High Court in the days to come. Already on January 30, there was disappointment as the High Court refused to lift the ban on Kambala and said it would wait until the Supreme Court gives its ruling on Kambala.
In the past few weeks, DK witnessed a series of protests. In Moodbidri, Kambala lovers and organisers took out a protest march while in Mangaluru too there was a protest and a human chain formed by students as well as leaders irrespective of party affiliations. Tulu theatre and film personalities too lent support adding strength to the movement.
The Kambala sport was first banned in mid-November 2014 by the district administrations of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi after the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) pressed for it citing cruelty to buffaloes. The HC had ordered the state government to express its point of view regarding the sport.In December, the same year. Subsequently, in December 2014 the Karnataka High Court lifted the ban on Kambala sport in the district. The court had stated that Kambala sport needs to be held in the presence of Tahsildar and the police inspector of the jurisdiction. It had also observed that the degree of cruelty of animals was less in Kambala.
However, the High Court’s division bench headed by Chief Justice SK Mukherjee had in November 2016 stayed the holding of Kambala after a petition by PETA which had sought a stay on the grounds that Kambala violated the Supreme Court directions in the Jallikattu case. The HC ordered that till the disposal of the public interest litigation by PETA is concluded, no Kambala races can be held. The Dakshina Kannada And Udupi District Kambala Committee, had filed an interim application seeking to vacate the stay. The recent HC ruling refusing to lift the stay though is a dampener, Kambala organisers have been looking up towards the State Government hoping it too would take the ordinance route on lines of Tamil Nadu. But the state government had settled for an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Bill is likely to be tabled before the legislature when it meets on February 6. The Bill passed by the legislature would however require an assent from the President.
In the meantime, the statement of the Chief Minister that the State Government was for Kambala and was in full support of Kambala has boosted the morale of the Kambala lovers.However, the only question asked by Kambala admirers as well as organisers is "Why ban Kambala when there is no cruelty to the animals unlike in Jallikattu ? Gunapal Kadamba, a senior member of the Dakshina Kannada-Udupi Kambala organising committee points out that the expert report on Kambala had stated that the anatomy of buffaloes was fit for using them for such races without abusing the animal.
District Kambala Samithi President Barkur Shantharam Shetty too states that no deaths have been reported during Kambala.
Many feel that a ban on a traditional sport like Kambala which is deep-rooted in the culture and ethos of the region should never be the first option. There is always a scope to remove those aspects of Kambala which some might be considering as cruel.
Ultimately, Kambala has united people of the region. Now, do we need any agitation in another state if at all Dakshina Kannada has to rise in unison against the controversial Yettinahole Project ?