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Assam cabinet gives nod to traditional buffalo fights during Magh Bihu, to issue detailed SOP to ensure no torture

Traditional buffalo and bull fights generally organised during Magh Bihu in January. After the ban by Supreme Court, such fights were still being organised by villages

The Assam cabinet on Friday, 8th December 2023, decided to approve traditional buffalo and bull fights generally organised during Magh Bihu in January. Such animal fights are currently banned as per the Supreme Court order banning Tamil Nadu’s jallikattu in 2014.

In the weekly cabinet meeting of the Himanta Biswa Sarma government, in-principle approval was granted to issue detailed guidelines and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedure) for permitting traditional buffalo and bull fights at Ahatguri in Marigaon district and other districts in the state. The cabinet decided that the SOP will aim to ensure no deliberate torture or cruelty is carried out on the animals and their well-being is provided for by the organisers during the annual Moh-juj festival, an integral part of the centuries-old Assamese cultural tradition.

Buffalo fights in Assam became illegal after Supreme Court banned the Jallikattu in 2014. However, people in some areas, particularly in central Assam, have been organising the fights during Magh Bihu. The annual fights are being organised by owners of the animals, not by centralised committees, which was the practice before the ban. However, no fights were organised during the pandemic.

Apart from buffalo fights, other animal fights like cock fights, bulbul fights are also held in different parts in Assam.

Earlier, governments in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra had amended prevention of animal cruelty laws to allow traditional animal fights. The supreme court has upheld these decisions, allowing bull-taming sport Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, buffalo racing in Karnataka (kambala) and bullock cart race in Maharashtra.

The apex court had said that its intention behind the 2014 order was not to ban animal fight altogether, but to reduce pain induced to animals. The court had further said that amendments made by the three states made a lots of changes to the way the events are organised, and ensure reduction of cruelty to animals.

Apart from the decision to allow buffalo and bull fights, the Assam cabinet also decided to conduct a socio-economic assessment of Assam’s indigenous minorities. The indigenous minorities in Assam largely incudes Assamese Muslims, descents of people who had converted to Islam, and not immigrants from Bangladesh.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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