Bird sales soar online as Andhra's cockfight season approaches

There is a growing craze for the cock fights in urban areas and people have already started selling and buying birds
Bird sales soar online as Andhra's cockfight season approaches
Bird sales soar online as Andhra's cockfight season approaches
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With the festival of Sankranti less than two months away, Andhra Pradesh is set for another season of 'cockfighting' but this time, the sport has also kept up with the times and moved to the internet.

Though there are several restrictions imposed by the government, and a Supreme Court order, it is a loved sport and tradition for many people living in rural areas and coastal Andhra.

However, the trend is fast picking up in urban areas too, as classified websites are now filled with advertisements of the birds, some bred especially for the fights.

As of now, the cost of birds varies from a little over Rs 1,000 in Hyderabad to Rs 10,000 in Vijayawada and Rs 12,000 in Tirupati.

(A screenshot from OLX)

A report in the Deccan Chronicle says that even a posh location in Vijayawada hosted a cockfight event organised by local legislatures last season, hinting that there was a growing craze for the cockfights in urban areas too.

With the festival set to take place in the second week of January, many people have started selling and buying the birds on the internet, to prepare them for the fights.

“We started preparing our roosters soon after the last festival season. Only such well-fed roosters turn strong contenders in the fight and take on the enemy,” L. Venkata Rama Rao, a villager from Gannavaram mandal told DC.

However, the last week of December and the first week of January see the activity reach unprecedented heights, as prices keep shooting up with each passing day. Some estimates suggest that a few thousand crores exchange hands during the festival.

The apex court in January this year, set aside the Dec 29, 2014 order of Andhra Pradesh High Court, which directed police to take action against those organising cockfights, which involved betting, sale of liquor, gambling and subjecting animals and birds to cruelty, during the festival.

The order had banned bullfighting, bullock-cart races and others sports cruel to animals and cited the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

However, the Supreme Court maintained that the ban on cockfights is still in force, and any violation will amount to contempt of court.

The fights between the specially bred and trained cocks are organised in an open location where hundreds gather to watch them. Three to four inch knives are attached to the cocks' legs and the fight continues till death.

BJP leader Raghurama Krishnam Raju, one of the main petitioners who challenged the HC order, made a case for a knife-less, gambling-free fight and said that "Cockfighting is a traditional sport that has been going on for thousands of years. Association of gambling with the sport however, is wrong and I do not deny that. The knife is worse than betting on the fight." 

Every year, the police conducts raids and seizes specially bred birds, but the sport continues.

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