BENGALURU: Kambala is a traditional sport played in coastal Karnataka, which has attracted the wrath of animal rights groups as it is “cruel” to buffaloes. The first race for the 2015-16 season was held on November 21. On December 18, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) directed the Karnataka government to ban the animal races.
Authorities say the event is being continued based on the guidelines issued by the Department of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Sciences (DAHVS) of the state government.
AWBI wrote to the Chief Secretary of the state “to take action for compliance of the orders of the Supreme Court in banning animal races”. The letter follows a complaint filed by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, India.
‘‘Apart from the Chief Secretary, Deputy Commissioners of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts and DAHVS officials also must ensure that immediate steps are taken to stop the racing events planned for 2015-16,’’ the letter by S Vinod Kumaar, Assistant Secretary, AWBI, said.
Owing to an interim order by the Karnataka High Court in December 2014, Kambala was organised in the said districts under certain conditions during the last season.
The letter said, “In April 2015, however, the High Court had dismissed the orders. The interim stay, which allowed the event, has been removed as the writ petition was dismissed. Moreover, the order of the Deputy Director, DAHVS, Udupi, and Deputy Commissioner, D K district, is not limited to Kambala events organised in 2014-15, but forever and the policy decision of Ministry of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Karnataka State, dated 14-11-2014 to stop Kambala and such programmes, which are unlawful and are cruel to the animals need to be strictly enforced.”
Inspection reports of such events have indicated violations of the conditions set up by the Karnataka HC and the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. “It also proves beyond doubt that Kambala events are inherently cruel and are no way different from bull races and Jallikattu, which are banned by the Honourable Supreme Court in the entire country,” the letter said.
Deputy Commissioner of Dakshina Kannada, A B Ibrahim, said that Kambala is being held based on directions of the High Court.
Game of horns
■ Kambala is a popular buffalo-racing sport in coastal Karnataka
■ Events are held in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi
■ Pairs of he-buffalos are trained for the events by families, which race against each other for the top prize
■ Races are held in winter and early summer.