Monday, January 16, 2012

Ban fails to stop cockfights during Sankranti in south

Practice thrives due to political patronage
  • IANS
  • Published: 00:00 January 16, 2012
  • Gulf News
A man attempts to catch a bull during the bull-taming festival of Jallikattu at Devanapuri village
  • Image Credit: EPA
  • A man attempts to catch a bull during the bull-taming festival of Jallikattu at Devanapuri village, 500km south of Chennai, yesterday. This sport is a part of the harvest festival Pongal.
Hyderabad: For people in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Sankranti is incomplete without cockfights and, like in the past, a ban could not prevent them from betting millions of rupees on it this time either.
Leading the violation of the ban were powerful politicians of all hues, who consider cockfights a part of the culture of the coastal Andhra region. The participants included film personalities and businessmen.
State legislators were not only invitees at several cockfights, but at least six of them even inaugurated the "gambling sport". Officially banned cockfights continue to thrive, with people's representatives at district and village levels themselves organising it in many villages.
Killing fields
An estimated Rs5 billion (Dh346.95 million) changed hands as thousands of people watched the cockfights in the villages of East Godavari, West Godavari and Krishna districts. The fights continue during three-day celebrations, which began on Saturday.
The fights between the specially bred and trained cocks are organised in fields as thousands watch them. Three- to four-inch knives are attached to the cocks' legs, and the fight continues till the death of one of the two birds in each round.
Though police deny permission for the fights, organisers always have the last laugh, thanks to the support from ministers and legislators. A state minister intervened when police refused permission for a fight in East Godavari district.
Vanga Geetha, a member of the assembly from the same district, openly criticised police action against cockfights in a village in her Pitapuram constituency.
Cultural event
Ruling Congress party legislator Jogi Ramesh inaugurated the cockfight in Gudur village Krishna district. Opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) legislator J. Venkataramana launched the fight at Chintapadu village in the same district.
Such fights are common in almost every village in the Konaseema region of coastal Andhra. Every year, police seize cocks and money in different places, but it continues to thrive.
The legislators say since the cockfights are part of the culture, they have to respect people's sentiments to get votes.
Politicians, businessmen and landlords in luxury cars with heavily-tinted windscreens secretly visit the villages to watch the fights and bet money.
While the Konaseema region is the hub of cockfights, it is also spreading to other parts of the state as indicated by the seizure of cocks by police.
Police on the outskirts of Hyderabad raided two places where the fight was organised. They arrested 25 people, seized 16 birds and Rs50,000.

No comments:

Post a Comment