The uprising in support of Jallikattu—the traditional bull-taming sport of Tamil Nadu—that has being ongoing in the state for the past several days, reached a temporary climax on 23 January 2017. Late in the afternoon, the state assembly passed the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, a state-specific amendment to the central Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960. The act replaced an ordinance the state government had passed two days earlier, allowing Jallikattu to be conducted. It exempted Tamil Nadu from the central PCA act, on the grounds that the sporting event held a crucial place in the culture and history of Tamils. Following the passage of the bill, the protest at Marina Beach in Chennai—which had become the epicentre of the agitation—was called off.
Sporadic protests broke out across Tamil Nadu in mid-January, a few days after Pongal, the traditional harvest festival of which Jallikattu is a crucial part. The sport had not been conducted in the state since 2014, when the Supreme Court of India passed an order banning it. Until the protests were called off, nearly 2 lakh protestors were present at Marina Beach every day, and on 21 January, an estimated 20 lakh people protested across the state. The agitation was largely peaceful, but violence broke out in several parts of Tamil Nadu when the police attempted to disperse the protestors. The crowds in many places responded by pelting stones—in the Triplicane area, a group of protestors torched two-wheelers outside a police station and threw a petrol bomb at another. The police in turn, launched a lathi charge and fired teargas shells at some places. The protestors largely comprised young men and women—students, IT professionals, and activists—many of whom, as residents of urban areas, did not regularly witness or participate in Jallikattu. The agitation also included several people belonging to Tamil Nadu’s working class—bank employees, auto and taxi drivers, among others. According to several news reports, the protest at Marina Beach saw active participation from a large number of women.
What began as an apolitical, youth-centeric movement demanding that Jallikattu be allowed to take place, soon gave way to a protest that centred around the question of Tamil pride and identity—perhaps the largest such movement that the state has witnessed since the anti-Hindi agitation in the 1960s. The protestors across the state began to represent a reaction to the failure of India's legal and political establishments in understanding the ground realities in Tamil Nadu. Most criticised and abused were Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, as symbols of an India that did not understand or respect Tamil concerns. Despite being a party that claims to uphold cultural nationalism, the BJP fell on the losing side of the Jallikattu debate, as it failed to convince the common man in Tamil Nadu of its support.