Banned on paper, cock-fight rules the roost in hinterland

Published: 14th August 2016 03:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th August 2016 03:43 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: Despite a ban endorsed by the Supreme Court, the bloody sport of cock-fighting still thrives in various parts of the country.

It is rampant in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Punjab. The Mangaluru-Udupi region in Karnataka, the Godavari belt in Andhra Pradesh, Karur and Dharmapuri districts in Tamil Nadu and Kasargod district in Kerala still follow a tradition that is cruel, sadistic and gory. The roosters die gruesome deaths as they provide thrills for gamblers.

Dharmapuri betting

Banned.jpgThe picture you see with this article shows a fight on the outskirts of Dharmapuri, a town on the bustling Bengaluru-Chennai highway.

Here, the stakes range from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, and the fights are held mostly during the weekends during the harvesting season.

An eyewitness says, “Hundreds of farmers bet enthusiastically. They are prepared to sell all their assets to back their favourites.”

These days, the hosts sharpen the claws of the birds to such an extent that they rip open the flesh of the opponent. Earlier, they would tie knives to the roosters’ legs.

After a bout in Dharmapuri, many gamblers move to Karur in Tamil Nadu, and then on to Andhra Pradesh. “The fights are conducted secretively and entry is restricted,” the eyewitness says.

The roosters are trained rigorously to become blood-thirsty killers, activists say.

The fights are patronised by politicians and the police, and stakes in coastal Andhra Pradesh can go as high as Rs 40-50 crore for a bout.

Facebook page

The sport has a presence on Facebook. A ‘Fighting-Rooster’ community page displays different breeds of cocks and has garnered 9,675 likes.

“A cock-fight is a blood sport between two roosters (cocks), held in a ring called a cockpit. Even though it’s illegal in India, people still raise, train and cock-fight at festival times,” the page states.

In Maharashtra and Odisha, the sport has disappeared, thanks to concerted efforts by animal welfare organisations.

According to Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC), an international trust for animal rights, cock fights flourish because people make easy money on the winners.

“A firm political will is needed to stop the fights. Last year, cockfights were held at several places. In Karur, many people were arrested. One fight in Andhra was inaugurated by the Inspector-General of Police, and another by the Chief Whip of the Government,” a BWC activist told Express.

PETA India, which has launched a campaign against the sport, says, “Roosters raised for fighting are often confined to cramped cages and tormented to make them aggressive. Razor-sharp spurs are attached to the birds’ feet to make fights more exciting and bloody. The birds often have their eyes gouged out and sustain broken wings and legs, punctured lungs, and severed spinal cords. Those who survive are forced to fight again. Based on our petition, the apex court had confirmed that forcing animals to fight is illegal nationwide.”

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