Two spectators at a controversial bull-wrestling festival in southern India were gored to death on Tuesday, police said, the third such fatal attack in two days.
“Jallikattu,” or the taming of the bulls, is a hugely popular annual event in Tamil Nadu state but has been criticized by animal rights activists.
Police in Sivaganga district, where the event took place, said two people were killed and 40 more sustained injuries when bulls ran into the crowd.
“The bulls ran amok into the crowd after some unidentified people let them loose outside the arena,” T. Jayachandran, the police superintendent of Sivaganga, told AFP by telephone. “A case will be registered and we will take appropriate action against the culprits.”
A raging bull sprinted into the viewer’s gallery, killing a teen spectator and wounding 11 others on Monday in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu.
One more was gored to death in Tiruchirappalli city the same day, according to the NDTV news network.
In Jallikattu, bulls, often festooned with marigolds, are released from pens and young men try to grab them by their sharpened horns or humps to win prizes for the best bull taming.
The prizes range from cars, motorcycles, fridges to television sets, gold coins and furniture.
India’s top court banned the controversial and sometimes deadly sport in 2016 citing animal cruelty, leading to statewide protests from residents who say the traditional contest is a crucial part of their culture.
The public outcry forced state authorities to overturn the ruling last year.
Critics say organizers lace the bulls’ feed with liquor to make them less steady on their feet and throw chili powder in their faces to send them into a frenzy as they are released.
Organizers of the centuries-old festival, however, insist the bulls suffer no harm.