Rajahmundry: Cockfights on track for Sankranti

RAJAHMUNDRY: Even as the Supreme Court dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by BJP leader Mr K. Raghurama Krishnam Raju seeking the cancellation of the High Court order that imposed curbs on conducting cockfights during Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh, organisers of cockfights have openly flouted all orders. Huge pandals have been built and flood lights fixed readying the stage for the cockfights where knives are tied to the talons of roosters, and the gruesome fight to the finish is watched with much glee and fanfare.

With just two days left for the cockfights, slated to be conducted during the three festive days of Sankranti, beginning fro-m January 14, the organisers are leveling the ground in fields located on the outskirts of the villages and setting up huge pandals with enclosures. They are also deploying private security personnel to restrict entry into these pandals in several parts of the Godavari district. Circles are being earmarked with limestone powder to organise the cockfights simultaneously at several places in about one to three acres of area.

Dozens of chairs are being arranged for visitors to sit comfortably and watch the cockfights. Huge parking lots have been arranged for vehicles. Political leaders, industrialists, businessmen, NRIs and film personalities are expected to arrive to villages like Vempa, I. Bhimavaram, Juvvalapalem, Bhimavaram, Veeravasaram, Yelamanchali, Narasapuram, Achanta, Mahadevapatnam and others mainly in West Godavari from Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru and other areas in the country.

In fact visitors have already begun arriving to the villages ahead of the festival and roads leading to these villages are jam-packed with expensive cars. Hotels in Bhimavaram, Narasapuram and Eluru have been booked to full capacity. Organisers have arraged for swiping machines and currency counting machines for both online and offline financial transactions to facilitate betting on the fights.

The local politicians have clearly misinterpreted the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the petition and its observations of keeping its earlier order operational.
Its earlier order imposed a stay order on the High Court’s directive allowing joint inspection teams of officials to seize fighting roosters. This means that the officials cannot seize roosters getting ready for fight but police can do so if they find it to be unlawful. The politicians claimed that they can go ahead with conducting cockfights in a traditional manner without involving knives, betting, gambling and other anti-social activities as per the SC’s observations. Based on this belief, the organisers and people have celebrated the occasion by firing crackers.

BJP leader Mr K. Raghurama Krishnam Raju said, “We are going to organise cockfights just for fun in a traditional manner with no knives tied to the talons of roosters during the three days of the festival. We will not involve in any unlawful activities and if so, the police are free to act as per norms. Moreover, we will approach the state government to lift Section 144 of Cr PC as it restricts the free movement of people and dampens the festive spirit.”

Humane Society International and India managing director Mr N.G. Jayasimha said, “The High Court issued orders to Andhra Pradesh government not to allow cockfights in 2016 but they continued unabated under the patronage of elected public representatives while the law enforcing agencies remained mute spectators. We urge the state government not to allow cockfights this Sankranti as it is cruelty to animals and also encourages social evils like betting, gambling and child labour.”

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