Despite efforts by police and animal rights activists to stop it, hundreds of goats and sheep were sacrificed on the first day of Yellamma Fair in Belagavi, Karnataka on Friday. Yellamma or Renuka Devi is considered to be the patron goddess of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Over 250 animals were killed even as police department tried to prevent it, according to New Indian Express. The five-day Yellamma fair attracts a lot of tourists from the neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Goa as well. The bi-annual fair saw over seven lakh pilgrims earlier this year in February.
Animal sacrifice was banned in Karnataka but in July this year, the Supreme Court stayed a clause prohibiting sacrifice of cattle for religious purposes under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017, according to a report.
In January, the ban was violated when several goats were sacrificed at the Mailarlingeshwar Jatra, in the Yadgir district of Karnataka, as per Business Standard. Despite district administration’s strict steps to prevent the animal sacrifice by putting up check posts, devotees managed to sneak in animals at the fair and pushed them towards ‘pallaki’ (palanquin).
Earlier this year, when the entire nation was divided on the issue of Jallikattu (a traditional festival of Tamil Nadu, which involves taming a bull), the Centre told the SC that the law allowed animal sacrifice in the name of religion. A few months later, ironically, the Centre banned cattle sale and slaughter across all the states in India, which evoked protests in states like Kerala and West Bengal that organise beef fests. BJP’s ban sparked a debate about traditional animal sacrifice at Kamakhya Devi Temple, in Assam.
With the latest SC ruling, the three-year ban by the Himachal Pradesh High Court order on animal sacrifice was lifted at Kullu Dussehra this year. And, animals like buffalo, chicken, male lamb, fish and crabs were sacrificed.
With the current flip-flop of the SC and Central government on taking a firm decision, an end to animal cruelty in the name of religion seems far-fetched.