Protests against PETA and VEDANTA: Historical victories for the Tamils

I would like to dedicate this article to all those who involved themselves in the protests to raise their voices against the government for our justice.

The two recent protests initiated by the Tamils are ” a double victory campaign” fulfilling the ultimate motive. The first mass action was for revoking the ban on Jallikattu sport by the Supreme Court restoring the Tamil ancient culture and the second being the closure of the Sterlite plant in Tuticorin. The two great achievements are discussed here.

Jallikattu Protest, 2017

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The Tradition followed

Jallikattu is a traditional bull taming sport practised since 400BC proving the valiance of the Tamils in the sport. It is conducted in TamilNadu as a part of Pongal celebrations in the countryside. The bull is released into a large crowd with multiple men participants trying to control the bull by holding the bull’s hump at the back. The hump is held until the bull stops. The participants could face injuries during the game. There are specific breeds that are raised and treated equal to God by the village people, giving special trainings for the game.

Ban on the game

The supreme court banned jallikattu , a bull taming sport, based on a lawsuit filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for the cruelty towards bulls in the sport. According to the lawsuit, it says that the Tamils torture the bulls with alcohol , throwing chilli powder on their face and  brutal treatments during the sport. There are similar sports in other countries where animals face extreme brutalism before they are killed in public for their meat. In India , beef trade is legal involving the slaughtering of cattle for meat export. Instead of banishing this trade to safegaurd the local cattle breed, why is the sport that doesn’t involve any cruel treatment towards the animals banned?

Reasons for the ban


There are two types of  cattle breed categories namely A1 and A2. A1 gene from the western countries causes health issues like diabetes, autism and many more whereas A2 gene from Asia and Africa contains the required minerals and vitamins for us. The western countries import Jersey cows for cross-breeding and artificial insemination, which would eventually eradicate the local breeds .The maintenance of Jersey breeds are expensive and not affordable by the farmers. The eradication would lead to enhancing the import of foreign breeds completely demolishing the local Indian milk production leaving the farmers to struggle. On abondoning Jallikattu, the balance cattle breed would be cross-bred demolishing the local breed increasing the A1 category breeds. PETA is funded by big MNCs from the western countries which has the power to legally take an action against the sport. Thenceforth, a lawsuit was filed by PETA to forbid the sport activity.

The Chennai Marina protest


The protest was initiated by the youngsters of TamilNadu in the Marina beach of Chennai against the ban. This protest spread all over the world where the Tamils from Sri Lanka, Malaysia , Indonesia , US , Mauritius, etc participated in their own country. The final verdict from the court authorised the sport to be conducted every year and closing the lawsuit filed by the PETA. This was a great achievement in the historical records of the Tamils.

2) The Tuticorin Sterlite Movement, 2018



Sterlite Copper Production units belong to the Vedanta group of Companies with the headquarters from London, United Kingdom. They operate copper smelters, sulphuric acid and phosphoric acid plants with also a 160 MW coal  based power plant supplying 40% of copper to India.

Factory setup in TamilNadu


In August 1994, the TamilNadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) issued a No objection certificate for the setup of the factory in TamilNadu with a constraint to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) with the concern over the local people and the biodiversity in the Gulf of Mannar.In January 1995, the Ministry of Environment and Forests granted an environmental clearance without waiting for the EIA results. In May 1995, the TNPCB granted a license to commence construction but asking to submit a rapid EIA. The industrial work was in progress breaching the setback query about the Gulf of Mannar.

Health effects on its implementation

sterlite night vision

  1. Within a year of implementing the factory work, the tuticorin residents complained of coughing , choking , headaches , dizziness  due to the emission of exhaust gases.
  2. Iron content in the groundwater is 17 to 20 times higher causing joint pain and chronic fatigue on drinking.
  3. Women suffer from menstrual disorders.
  4. ENT disorders and body pain were prevalent in those areas covering the factory locality.

The TNPCB issued a clean chit addition to filing a case after which the Madras High Court closed the factory’s functioning  for a few days allowing it to resume the production later in a few days.

Political issues

The involvement of Supreme Court in 2004 demanded an environmental clearance from the TNPCB after noticing constant gas leakage troubles to the residents on doubling the production from 40000 tonnes per annum to 70000 tonnes. On inspection by the TNPCB identified that the company violated the laws by usage, beyond the permissible level of copper, sulphuric and phosphoric acids. Additionally, the expansion of the company never had any legal license issued by the TNPCB.From the unjust politics, the factory resumed its production once again.

In 2013, a massive gas leakage again happened owing to release of gas from sulphuric acid plants that was thrice the permissible amount. Due to the illegal work , the supreme court proposed a fine of 1 billion but leaving the factory to continue the work. The shallow and biased judgement by the court argued that the factory is the leading copper producer of India employing 1300 families.

The Final Movement


In March 2018, when the factory was shut down for its maintenance, the residents demanded a permanent closure of the factory boosting the fire to a 100 day protest which killed 13 and injured 65. Eventually, the factory is sealed stopping its complete production. This movement once again shows the social concern, awareness and the bravery of the tuticorin residents leading to a historical victory once again. Thought the court  has adjourned the next hearing to June 6, 2018, the achievement towards the goal has been reached. 

 Though there exists a well-framed constitution in India, the secret politics behind our back result in unjust actions for the people. Justice is brought back with massive protests by the people and not the government. The loss of lives and vandalism during the protests could be avoided if the government works for the welfare of the people ensuring justice to the society. 

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