Who will clip the wings?

People argue that rooster fights are among the traditional games and part of the harvest festival

Can cockfights, which are said to be part of the traditional games during Sankranti festivities from Bhogi to Kanuma, be prevented in the coastal districts of the State?

The answer may be in the negative as cockfights were organised in a big way despite ban during Sankranti celebrations earlier and arrangements are reportedly under way to hold them again.

Villagers argue that rooster fights are a part of Sankranti, which is a major festival when the farmers bring home their harvest (paddy stocks) and pray for bumper crops for the next year. The harvest festival includes drawing colourful rangolis, placing ‘gobbemmalu’, decorating bullock carts and tractors, inviting relatives, preparing traditional dishes such as nethi garelu, poornam burelu, bobbatlu, putarekulu, ariselu, natu kodi kura, payasam, pongali, pulihora and other varieties and offer them to God and elders.

The families celebrate the festival with gangireddula melalu, Haridasulu and enjoy cockfights, banda lagudu, kites, tug of war, pottella pandelu and other games.

"Cockfights, which are part of Sankranti festivities, are being organised since a long time during the harvest festival. How can we celebrate a big festival without rooster fights. There are no incidents of the traditional sport leading to tension or violence earlier," said a farmer M. Pothu Raju of Kalidindi in Krishna district.

On the other hand, the police are trying hard to enforce the ban with the High Court directing the government to take all necessary steps to stop the rooster fights as it attracts the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

Caught in between are the public representatives. While local people want them to use their influence to allow the rooster fights to continue, the police want them to convince people not to indulge in it, in the light of High Court orders. The pressure on public representatives to allow the fights, is more this time as elections are just a few months away. "It is a tricky situation for us," says a ruling party MLA who did not want to be named.

Cockfights are quite popular. Irrespective of age and gender, villagers enjoy them while people who imigrated to other places return to their native places to enjoy the festival.

Cases booked

Police booked 3,228 cases for organising cockfights, arrested 7,123 persons and seized 4,530 roosters and huge cash during Sankranti last year. They submitted the action taken report, including the names of some public representatives who inaugurated cockfights and involved in the game, to the court.

Many illegal activities, including gambling and other banned games, were being conducted at the cockfight arenas, and liquor was allegedly being sold illegally.

"Not only during Sankranti, we conduct raids and register cases against cockfights after the festival across the State. We will implement the court orders strictly," a police officer says, and appeals to people to alert the police on cockfight arenas, if any arranged, in villages.

Ahead of the festival, the police registered cases against those who are training, and preparing the birds for cockfights, at many places.

Source: Read Full Article