He was gored to death by a bull that barged into the spectators’ gallery at Alanganallur in January 2004
Eighteen-year-old Dalit artist N. Marimuthu of Pudhu Thamaraipatti here had a deft hand and a sharp eye for detail. Those were the reasons why he won every other art competition he attended. However, the promising young artist fell prey to the horns of a bull that gored him to death after barging into the spectators’ gallery when he was sketching a picture of jallikattu at Alanganallur in January 2004.
“The incident happened around 10 a.m. but he was admitted to Government Rajaji Hospital here only at 3.30 pm. My father [A. Nagarajan alias ‘Mannennai’ Nagarajan] was crestfallen. Then, we could not do much because deaths in jallikattu was common and there were absolutely no regulations or provision of medical care at the site,” says his elder brother, N. Alagarsamy (38).
Mr. Nagarajan felt relieved only after Justice R. Banumathi (now a Supreme Court judge) banned jallikattu, rekla race, oxen race and other such events during her stint at the Madras High Court Bench here on March 29, 2006.
Nevertheless, the contentment was short lived as the matter was taken on appeal before a Division Bench of the High Court and a host of other writ petitions, filed against the ban by jallikattu enthusiasts, were tagged along with it.
Feeling the exigency to act fast and apprise the court of the danger involved to human life in jallikattu, he made a representation to Madurai Collector on September 8, 2006, to ban Alanganallur jallikattu and also filed a writ petition in the court.
Though Animal Welfare Board of India too intervened during the hearing on the appeal proceedings and opposed the move to lift the ban imposed by the single judge, Mr. Nagarajan became the only private individual to argue against the sport through his lawyer Samuel James.
After elaborate arguments, a Division Bench of Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and P.P.S. Janarthana Raja passed an interim order on January 9, 2007 permitting jallikattu that year subject to certain regulations.
The judges also directed the State government to pay a compensation of Rs.1 lakh to Mr. Nagarajan but the money was not paid to him until the Division Bench passed final orders on the batch of cases on March 9, 2007.
“We got the money, but how far can that Rs.1 lakh compensate the loss of a precious life. My brother was a timid boy who was interested in art like me. He had completed Plus-Two and had a few arrears when he was killed. None of us ever thought that his death would be so gruesome. He went to Alanganallur jallikattu along with his artist friends to sketch a picture for an art competition in view of Pongal but never returned,” Mr. Alagarsamy laments.