COIMBATORE: Those involved in cockfighting in the villages of Coimbatore district are dismayed by the Madras High Court’s suggestion to the state government to ban the sport, like Jallikattu and Rekla Race.
“We should take care of their wellbeing in our own interest and when the rights of the voiceless species are sought to be affected, obligation is cast upon this court to protect their rights,” a Division Bench comprising Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice S Vaidyanathan had observed.
Animal rights activists had called for banning the sport as sharp knives are tied to the legs of the fighting birds to slash the rival. There is also much betting on the birds, it is pointed out.
N M Kathirvel, president of the Veera Vilaiyattu Sangam, cannot understand the court’s position. “We don’t know why courts are banning traditional village sports. After the ban Jallikattu and Rekla Race, farmers were hopeful about participating in cockfights till an order is issued to revive these sports. It is surprising that the court wants cockfighting also to be banned,” he said.
The Sangam organised cockfighting during Pongal in the last two years at Nathegoundenpudur near Alandurai where nearly 300 birds took part. The events were held with the court’s permission.“We plan to approach the Supreme Court to review High Court’s directive as we have to protect our traditional sport,” said Kathirvel.
Sellappan, a councillor of Pooluvapatti panchayat, who is passionate about cockfighting, has been raising a rooster since it was a chick. “There is no intention to harm the birds,” he said, adding, “I am involved in the sport only to develop rural sports”.
“The court has banned farmers’ sports but left untouched horse racing, which is a rich man’s sport,” said T Yuvaraj, president of Nallur Panchayat in Pollachi.
Now, cockfighting events are held in secret places in villages near Annur, Pollachi, Kinathukkadavu, Anamalai, Negamam, Sulur and Alandurai with bets on weekends and during festival seasons. Such places are far away from residential areas and are regularly shifted to escape the police. This will continue even if the sport is banned, say villagers.
“We can conduct the fights secretly in a small space if we have four persons who are rearing the birds.
But Jallikattu or Rekla Race cannot be held in secret as large spaces are required,” said a diehard cockfighting fan.
“Though the police arrest those who conduct cockfighting frequently for bets and register cases, the sport is thriving. If it is banned, it will go ‘underground’,” said another man.