Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Goa politicians tussle over animal-fights!

This is one unique battle which must be making animal rights activists bull fight in Goasit up and scratch their heads in disbelief. Two Goan legislators are currently tussling on who should actually be credited for making efforts to make animals fight. I repeat, making animals fight, not fighting for animals' rights.

The tussle is currently between the former Chief Minister of Goa and current Member of Parliament Mr Francisco Sardinha and the " erstwhile save Goa party merged-into-congress MLA " Mr Aleixo Reginald Lourenco. Both the rivals from the Curtorim constituency are currently engaged in a war of words over who is more interested in the legalisation of the "DHIRIO", the so-called traditional bullfight which a section of Goans apparently love.

It seems the promise to legalise the 'dhirio" was made by some legislators to their constituents at the time of elections and with the Lok sabha elections looking up, the promises are knocking hard for answers.

On the 6th of February  the Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco introduced a  Bill in the concluding  session of the state assembly of Goa seeking an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 . The Bill sought to nullify the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act under which the organization of bullfights or "Dhirio" is illegal.

The bill also seeks to formulate guidelines  to be framed by the government for the purpose of regulating the conduct of the "sport" in the state while mentioning that dhirio is a traditional sport in Goa which needs to be protected.

Countering the move, the Congress MP said that the bill in the Goa assembly has no meaning untill the law is amended at the centre and apparently termed it an eyewash.

On 12th February, Sardinha moved a private member's Bill in the Lok Sabha to revoke the ban on bullfights, asserting that these festivities form part of a tradition of Goa going back centuries thereby seeking a series of amendments in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 to ensure these bull fights are regulated and the animals are protected from suffering any injuries.

The Bill is therefore aimed at the squashing of the ban on Dhirio, a kind of a traditional Goan bullfight or a game for trial of strength which is a part of the traditional festivity in Goan villages during the monsoon( and now anytime) which has been stopped for more than a decade by the animal lovers in the state by invoking the Act on the ground that the animals were subjected to cruelty in this kind of a game.

Citing the case of Tamil Nadu and Goa to be identical,bull fight In the statement of objects and reasons for moving the amendment bill, Sardinha reasoned that the bullfights are part of festivities in certain parts of the country,such as Tamil Nadu and Goa but argued the inability of having the bullfights due to the restrictions on the same.

Incidentally, organizers of "Dhirios" mint anywhere from Rs two lakh to Rs 8 lakh a fight, as bull owners and spectators bet heavily on their favourite competitor and the whole game is allegedly driven by betting.

The bill in the Lok sabha however has no meaning now as it was presented in the last session of the 14th Lok Sabha and all pending Bills collapse on the constitution of the new House which will be constituted after the election results in May 2009.

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