Bengaluru: Karnataka assembly on Monday passed a bill to facilitate the conduct of “Kambala”, a traditional annual buffalo race in marshy fields, held in the coastal districts of the state.
The clamour for Kambala was spurred by the success of the stir in Tamil Nadu for allowing Jallikattu ( taming of bull ), which led to the state government bringing a similar amendment to the Central act.
Kambala committees and various Kannada organisations had held protests at several places against the ban.
Kambla in its traditional form is non-competitive with buffalo pairs made to race one after another in paddy fields, which is considered a thanksgiving to the Gods for protecting the animals from diseases.
Over the years, it has however become an organised sport with animal rights activists claiming that the buffaloes run in the race due to fear of being beaten, which the organisers dismiss, saying no violence is involved and that several modifications had been made to ensure that it is an animal friendly event.
Considering the significant role played by the traditional sports events “Kambala” and “Bulls race or Bullock cart race” in preserving and promoting traditions and culture among the people in the state and their vital role in ensuring survival and continuance of native breeds of cattle, the government has decided to exempt their conduct, the bill said.
The bullock cart races are held in North Karnataka and Kambala in the coastal districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (Central Act 59 of 1960) was enacted to prevent the infliction of unnecessary cruelty and suffering on animals.
It recognises the need to exempt the application of its provisions in certain circumstances.
The amendment bill states that there was no extra expenditure involved in the proposed legislative measure.
Amid growing protests for lifting the court stay on Kambala, Karnataka Cabinet on January 28 had decided to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to pave the way for the traditional sport.
A Karnataka high court division Bench, headed by Chief Justice S K Mukherjee, had in November last year stayed holding of Kambala on a petition by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) challenging it in view of orders passed by the Supreme Court on Jallikattu.
On January 30, 2017, the high court had said it would await the Supreme Court verdict on Jallikattu case.