VIJAYAWADA: Police’s week-long efforts, such as destruction of cockfight arenas, detaining history-sheeters and filing cases against suspects, failed to put an end to the blood sport and the gambling associated with it on the first day of Sankranti on Tuesday.
Post noon, cockfights were organised on a massive scale in many parts of Krishna, Guntur and the twin Godavari districts. Thousands gathered in the arenas to witness rooster fights and gamble. Though police claimed that the ban on cockfighting imposed during Sankranti by the Supreme Court and the High Court would be strictly implemented and organisers will be arrested, blood was spilt on the arenas as roosters with knives strapped to their toes fought to the death.
In Krishna district, cockfights and gambling were reported in Gannavaram, Nuzvid, Musunuru, Kankipadu, Gudivada, G Konduru and Mylavaram where crores of rupees allegedly changed hands.
Political leaders were allegedly involved and in some instances pressurised the police to allow organisers to conduct the illegal sport. In some villages, the situation was under control as police took the organisers into custody.
Krishna district Superintendent of Police (SP) M Ravindranath Babu said more than 50 cases were filed against organisers for illegally conducting cockfights. “Instead of indulging in illegal activities, people should celebrate the festival with joy and fervour. Sankranti is not a gambling festival,” he said.
In West Godavari, the bloodsport was organised in Gunjavaram and Gutala in Polavaram mandal, Chotimella, Gudivakalanka, Akivedu, Undi, Bhimavaram, Palkollu, Narasapuram, Linkapalem, Chintalapudi, Kamavarapukota and Pedavegi mandals.
Unlike every year, MLAs from the district did not extend patronage to cockfights. Narasapuram MP K Raghurama Krishnam Raju organised cockfights at his residence without the use of knives. “Cockfights are a part of the festival. However, using a knife is illegal,” he said.
Meanwhile, hotels in Eluru and Bhimavaram were full as punters from various places arrived in the district to participate in the celebrations.
According to sources, crores of rupees changed hands in rooster fights and gambling took place in Bhimavaram, Eluru, Denduluru, Undi, Yalamanchili, Narsapuram, Akivudu, Jangareddygudem, Chintalapudi and Tadepalligudem.
A similar situation prevailed in East Godavari district. It is learnt that bets worth Rs 100 crores were placed on Tuesday. In Pithapuram, which is famous for cockfights, more than 100 arenas were set up by local politicos and people were seen indulging in gambling games such as gundata.