Andhra promises to check cock fights during Sankranti

Hyderabad, Jan 7 (IANS) The Andhra Pradesh government on Thursday said it will take strong action against anyone organising the traditional cock fight games during the Sankranti festival.

The state government filed an affidavit in the Hyderabad High Court when the matter relating to cock fights came up for hearing.

The government told the court that it would take all steps to check cock fights. On the direction of a division bench, the government filed an affidavit in this regard.

The court wanted to know from the government as to what action it proposed to take against those organising cock fights and other games violating the ban.

Sankranti festival spread over three to four days is scheduled to be celebrated next week.

The joint high court for both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh was dealing with a petition which alleged that arrangements were being made to organise cock fights on large scale and police were not taking action to prevent this.

The high court last year directed police to take action against those organising cock fights with betting, sale of liquor, gambling and subjecting animals and birds to cruelty during the festival.

A BJP leader and two others from Andhra had challenged the high court order on the ground that cock fights are part of tradition and culture. They argued that without this, the festival will lose its significance.

The petitioners claimed that the ban will also affect the revenues which the state gets from visitors, including NRIs, during the festival. According to them during 2012-13, 3,452 NRIs came to these districts and spent nearly Rs.600 crore to see the cock fights and during 2013-14 a total of 3,561 NRIs came and spent nearly Rs.634 crore.

Powerful politicians of all hues, celebrities and businessmen, participate in the betting. The fights between the specially bred and trained cocks are organised in fields as thousands watch them. Three- to four-inch knives are tied to the cocks’ legs and the fight continues till the death of one of the two cocks in each round.

Though police deny the permission to conduct such fights, the organisers always have the last laugh thanks to the support from powerful politicians.

Every year, police seize specially bred cocks and money at various places but the cock fights continue to thrive due to political patronage.

The legislators say since the cock fights are part of the culture, they have to respect the people’s sentiments.

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