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Jan 13 2015
Ban on cock fight in AP to continue till further order: SC
The Supreme Court kept in place the ban on ‘cock-fighting’, a popular sport in rural coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, while requesting the high court to decide afresh the legality of the game.
A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu asked the high court to examine the issue in light of the apex court’s earlier judgment banning ‘jallikattu’, or bull-taming sport, in Tamil Nadu.
The apex court had held that the manner in which scared bulls were made to run, sometimes after administration of intoxicants, it amounted to cruelty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The SC set aside the HC order banning cock-fighting as the basis for the judgment was not forthcoming.
Till the time the HC decides the legality of cock-fighting, the SC kept in place an interim ban on it while setting aside the HC judgment banning it. “We set aside the order of the HC and refer the issue back to the HC to decide the issue afresh in light of apex court earlier order,” it said while directing maintenance of status quo.
A group of people had approached the apex court against the HC order saying that it was a traditional game which should be permitted.
PREVALENCE of cockfighting
The Times of India Jan 11 2016
Believe it or not, cockfight organisers in rural Andhra Pradesh spend anything upward of Rs 2 lakh a year to feed each bird to prepare it for the bloody sport. Though illegal, it is a mega sport in the countryside during Sankranti and the stakes run into hundreds of crores of rupees.
The West Godavari district leads the cockfight `industry' with people spending about Rs 200 crore on betting.Neighbouring Krishna and Guntur districts follow. With such high stakes, the organisers do not leave any stone unturned in preparing the birds. They are fed almonds, cashews and minced mutton (keema) and injected with muscle-building hormones and antibiotics so that they can withstand injuries during the fight.
Cockfighting is prohibited under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974. Bird lovers oppose cockfight events as thousands of roosters die, while cockfight enthusiasts describe this as a “traditional sport“.
Rearing of `fighter' cocks involves huge costs. “We offer several types of nutritious food that make the bird ready to take on anyone and help its owner make quick money ,“ said a poultry assistant in volved in rearing of fighting birds in Guntur district. The day begins before sunrise when the birds are fed almonds, cashews, and pulses.An hour later, they would be fed keema. The feed is a balanced diet and a veterinarian takes care of the birds. Then they are fed boiled eggs and in the evening some dry fruits and cereals.
The birds are trained daily. The poultry assistant would keep an eye on the health of the birds and administer hormone injections to make them more ferocious.
Anticipating heavy demand for `fighter' cocks, punters have set up their own farms in and around Guntur city. Earlier, punters from Guntur, Krishna, Prakasam and Nellore used to visit West Godavari to purchase the battle-ready roosters. Some of the birds command a price of Rs 4 lakh each.
“It may sound bizarre to hear someone buying a rooster weighing four to five kg for Rs 4 lakh. But it's worth it. If the bird wins the fight, it brings in a lot more money . The stakes are quite high,“ argues P Nagaraju of Pedakakani village in Guntur. He says these cocks help the organisers earn almost 10 times the investment.
`Specialists' are hired to tie a blade to the bird's limbs as it is the ultimate weapon to chop off the rival bird in the bloody sport. The birds are categorised as Dega (eagle), Kaaki (crow), Pearl and Nemali (peacock). The names are indicative of their skills and abilities. Dega cocks are said to be more ferocious during noon hours, while the `peacock' would fight down the rival in the evening.
While Sankranti is traditionally associated with flying kites and celebrating the harvest, in villages across coastal Andhra Pradesh, it also spells murder. Blood, liquor and money flow freely as thousands of people gather at makeshift arenas, betting on their favourite ‘fighter’ -- pugnacious cocks fighting to their death with sharp knives tied to their spurs.
And Andhra’s bloodier version of the Jallikattu is no small affair.
This year, an estimated Rs 900 crore to Rs 1,200 crore were wagered by punters in three days, and more than two lakh roosters were thrown into the ring to fight it out.
One hotspot for tourists is the tiny village of Edupugallu on the outskirts of Vijayawada which attracts thousands of people, locals as well as from Telangana, Odisha and Tamil Nadu turning up in cars and two-wheelers.
Vijayawada city police commissioner Ch Dwaraka Tirumala Rao says that "attaching knives to birds is illegal” as per the high court as is gambling in all forms of sport including cockfights. But the practice continues. Though scores of people were arrested this year -- 914 cases were registered by Vijayawada city police alone -- police are usually mute spectators to what is regarded as a tradition in these parts.
Vegesna Satish Babu, a punter from Undi in West Godavari district owns six Aseel birds. "Cockfight is a tradition handed down to us by our forefathers. There is nothing wrong in it,” he says. The birds are trained for over six months before Sankranti. They are fed dry fruits and sometimes injected with steroids for extra strength. The daily training routine includes swimming, a bath with an Ayurvedic pain balm and endurance exercises. Punters also make sure that the bird does not put on extra weight as this slows them down.
The birds are usually of the magnificent Aseel breed, but illegally imported roosters from Thailand and Australia were introduced for the first time this year. Cockfights continue well after sunset, under floodlights. Card games and a numbers game (locally known as gundata) are also organised on the sidelines. At Geddanapalli village in East Godavari district, gambling arenas were `auctioned’ for Rs 32 lakh last week. The bidding went up to Rs 1 crore in Kajuluru mandal in EG district, say punters from the district.
The recent spurt in incomes due to fish farming has also translated into higher stake cockfights.“The craze for the game is increasing by the year. Increased air connectivity to Vijayawada and Rajahmundry has facilitated more visitors from neighbouring states this time," says Babu.
It is a potent cocktail where the birds don't stand a chance.