NEW DELHI: At least two spectators were gored to death at a bull-wrestling festival in India that animal activists say is cruel and want banned, police said on Monday.
The bulls broke through barricades separating fans from the action in the arena on Sunday in Pudukottai, a town in Tamil Nadu where thousands had swarmed to watch the Jallikattu festival.
“Two spectators were hit by the bulls near the arena. One of them died on the spot and another died at the hospital,” P. Sangaraj, a police officer in Pudukottai, said.
Authorities said dozens of participants were also injured Sunday while trying to grab the charging bulls by their horns and rumps in the hope of winning prizes.
More than 100 people have been hurt since the festival, an annual fixture in southern Tamil Nadu state, kicked off Wednesday.
Organizers said more than 1,300 bulls were released on Sunday from pens into the arena — more than doubling the previous daily record.
Jallikattu remains wildly popular despite the danger and controversy around the treatment of the bulls.
Animal activists say the bulls are fed alcohol and chili powder is thrown in their faces to make them aggressive before the contest.
India’s Supreme Court outlawed Jallikattu in 2016 after animal rights groups argued the bulls were grossly abused during the festival.
But organizers and Tamil Nadu’s state government deny the animals are mistreated, describing Jallikattu as a crucial part of its culture and identity.
The ruling triggered widespread protests in the state capital Chennai and other major cities.
Under pressure, the state government issued an executive order over-riding the court’s judgment and Jallikattu went ahead a year later.
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