The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) plans to file a contempt of court petition in the Hyderabad High Court, alleging that the Andhra Pradesh government for failed to control cockfights during Sankranti festival this year.
According to reports, the Board is armed with video footage and photographs, and is also planning to write to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Speaker of the Andhra Assembly, bringing to their notice, the political support from MLAs and MPs, that the organisers witnessed.
"The state government has grossly failed to control conduct of cockfights. Though the district Collectors and SPs were given clear directions not to allow such fights and inspection teams were formed to keep check on them, they all failed to control them. We will file a contempt petition in the court seeking action," AWBI member NG Jayasimha, was quoted as saying.
This move comes a day after state DGP N Sambasiva Rao claimed that the police was not blind to the sport.
Reacting to reports of police incompetence, he stated that the department had registered 1,347 cases in the past few days, with 471 cases registered in Krishna district, while another 337 were registered in West Godavari, and 136 in East Godavari.
Speaking to media persons, he also said 94 cases were registered in urban areas too, like Vijayawada and Guntur.
Several crore rupees were bet on cockfights in parts of Andhra Pradesh last week, despite court orders banning them and warnings by police.
Cockfights were organised on a large scale in dozens of villages in Krishna, West Godavari and East Godavari district of coastal Andhra.
At a few places, police stopped the cockfights but in a majority of the villages the organisers had a field day.
Punters including businessmen and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) visited their homes for the festival, and bet crores of rupees.
According to reports, it is estimated that the total turnover of this yearâ€™s cockfights in the two districts would be roughly Rs 1,000 crore.
Bets on individual fights ranged from a few hundred rupees to several lakh per game. New currency notes including the Rs 2,000 denomination had also found their way into the hands of the gamblers.
The fights also had political backing as politicians belonging to the ruling TDP, its ally BJP, main opposition YSR Congress Party and others, inaugurated the cockfights at some places in three districts.
BJP leader Raghurama Krishnamraju, who had challenged in the Supreme Court the orders of Hyderabad High Court banning cockfights, inaugurated a fight in Bheemavaram in West Godavari district.
Citing cockfights as a part of Telugu culture, he said it was a rural sport being organised for centuries during 'Sankranti'.
The Hyderabad High Court on December 26 had upheld the ban on cockfights and directed the Andhra Pradesh Police not to allow it.
Even then, the AWBI was the chief petitioner in the case
Raghurama Krishnamraju had approached the Supreme Court, seeking stay of the High Court order.
The apex court, while refusing to stay the High Court order, directed police not to seize roosters primed for the fights. However, it ordered that the police could still seize knives and other such material used in the fights.
The petitioner had contended that the roosters are bred indigenously by farmers as a means of livelihood.
The fight is usually between two birds, with the match ending when one bird dies or is fatally injured. In many cases, three to four inch knives are attached to the cocks' legs, making the fight bloodier, as hundreds gather to watch.
Cockfighting is also banned under the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act, 1960, and the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974.