New Delhi (Sputnik): Despite a ban, cockfights have been organised on a massive scale in the southern coastal Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The roosters are trained for two months to fight each other, and bets are placed to win cash prizes for the punters and owners.
A 55-year-old man and punter identified as Venkateswara Rao of Andhra Pradesh has died after a sharp knife that was tied to a rooster’s leg stabbed him. The incident happened when the bird tried to escape the clutches of the punter who was holding it, The News Minute website reported.
These fights often lead to clashes between organisers. Ten persons were reported injured in such clashes in the state of Andhra Pradesh, and two others in the Khammam district of neighbouring Telangana also sustained injuries while another suffered a leg fracture.
Around 540 cases have been registered and 1,494 people were taken into custody for organising illegal rooster fights in Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna district alone, as per media reports.
The police were deployed to districts in Andhra Pradesh to conduct raids and drone surveillance was carried out to identify people breaking the law.
The sport is arranged to mark the three-day January harvest festival of Pongal celebrated across the region, and hundreds of thousands of rupees are exchanged each year by gamblers placing bets on the most promising roosters.
Two specially trained birds, well-fed for the occasion, are provoked and allowed to fight each other until one dies or is fatally injured, with hundreds of onlookers witnessing the carnage. To make the fight more interesting for enthusiasts, a sharp knife is tied to the bird’s leg to make it bloodier.
In 2016, the High Court passed an order banning rooster fights and the Supreme Court upheld the decision after recognising that the fights are not only cruel to the birds but also encourage social evils like gambling and child labour.