Ahead of the Sankranti festival, Humane Society International (HSI) India, an animal protection organisation, has urged citizens to report cockfighting. Cockfighting is widely prevalent in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu during Sankranti despite a ban and warnings by police. Crores of rupees change hands as people bet big on the cockfights, which were banned in 2018 on the orders of the Supreme Court.
In cockfights, two roosters, often fitted with razor-sharp curved blades on their spurs, are forced to fight each other to death. The fight ends with either one or both of the roosters dying. The winning rooster inevitably dies from grievous injuries sustained during the fight, the HSI said.
HSI-India’s Managing Director, Alokparna Sengupta said, "Engaging in cockfighting not only inflicts immense suffering on animals, it exploits people too. HSI-India urges every individual to dissuade others from indulging in this inhuman and unlawful activity and promptly inform the nearest police station of any cockfights being organised or conducted. This festive season, as we celebrate our harvest, let us prioritise compassion.”
Large audiences attend cockfighting events where bets ranging from a few thousand to crores of rupees are placed. Organisers set up large arenas on open plots, sometimes on the grounds of schools, to accommodate fight rings and viewing seats.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 under Sections 11(1)(m)(ii) makes it an offence to incite animal fights. Organising, keeping, using, or acting in the management of any place for animal fighting or permitting or offering any place to be used for such a purpose is a cognizable offence under Section 11(1)(n) of the Act.
In addition to the cruelty inflicted on these birds, cockfighting events are intrinsically linked with gambling, and the arenas also serve as a focal point for various other illegal activities such as gambling and the sale of illicit liquor.
Cockfighting events also often use child labour and expose them to extreme violence against animals, HSI said. “They are also made to defeather and butcher the dead/dying birds. Such activities have profound implications on their physical and mental well-being… It is also extremely dangerous for humans who are present at such illegal events. Last year, at two different places, two people succumbed to wounds caused by knives tied to the roosters. Several people are injured in the crowded arenas and fights that break out over the bets,” the organisation said.