Thirikkal racing still raises hacklesView(s):
By Chrishanthi Christopher
One year on and the battle to ban the thirikkal (hackery races), a sport held to celebrate National New Year, continues. While seasonal revellers make arrangements to have the thirikkal races, animal rights activists have once again raised their voices against the cruelty to the bull that pulls the cart during the races.
Opposition from animal rights activists against holding the races has prompted cattle owners to approach a popular politician to canvass their case to President Maithripala Sirisena.
Lanerole Perera, a member said they had requested Presidential Adviser and SLFP organiser for Avissawela, Prassana Solongarachchi to talk to President Sirisena regarding continuing to conduct the sport.
“Those in favour of the sport concede, a ban will bring down the value of the animal drastically pushing them (the animals) into slaughter houses for meat. The bullocks are valued at Rs. 5-7 lakhs an animal but doing away with the sport will bring down the price to Rs. 50,000 to Rs.60,000. Also they argue, an aged old culture will be lost. The bullock cart is our traditional method of transport and we will have nothing to show our children. We will only have to show photographs,” Mr. Perera said.
He said around 15 to 20 thirikkal races will be held this season including Homagama, Dompe, Hambantota, Kaduwela and Maradana. Meanwhile Prassana Solongarachchi said that he had presented the case to President Sirisena and had submitted a file containing pictures of the cattle, how well they are cared for and the thirikkal carts that would go extinct, if banned. “I respect the views of the animal rights activists but I have to listen to the people also,” he said.
Meanwhile animal protection activist Lalani Perera, a member of the Cattle Protection Trust (CPT) who is in the forefront of the ban said that they are campaigning for a blanket ban on the races citing the amount of torture the animal is subject to during the races. She maintains that the animals are beaten and bitten and their tails twisted to propel them forward, faster. While many enjoy the races for the excitement and the fun it can bring, some indulge in gambling and thousands, if not millions, exchange hands.
Last year the police on requests made by animal activists had issued a circular to all police stations to discourage the sport in their areas. The circular said that if despite the races are held, any persons reported of cruelty to the animals will be prosecuted under the Cruelty to Animals Ordinance. This included cattle, elephants and other animals. The ordinance said that any overriding, overdriving and unnecessary harm to the animals is an offence. Animal activists said there is plenty of overriding and overdriving in this sport.
Last year the circular to the police stations had been somewhat a deterrent to a few event organisers who struck-off the sport from their list. CPT members have met DIG Crimes (Colombo) Priyantha Jayakody recently to have the National New Year events monitored. The Colombo Crimes Division has issued circulars to all police stations this year too. However DIG Jayakody said the sport is legal and the only way this could be stopped is by discouraging the people to not go to/enjoy such events. “There are two sides to the story and the owners of the animals claim that they give special care to the animals. We cannot ignore this,” he said.
|ALARM OVER ELEPHANT RACE |
A billboard in Piliyandala has advertised avurudu celebrations this week. In the list of events is the avurudu kumaraya and an elephant race. Wildlife conservationist, Nadeeka Happuarachchi said that he had written to the wildlife minister regarding the practice of using elephants in cultural pageants.
He said the elephant permits only allows them to be used in peraheras.