High court orders and police officialsâ€™ warnings of stern action seem to be having no effect, as cockfight organisers are going ahead with arrangements for the smooth conduct of the sport in the twin Godavari and Krishna districts.
Sources from Bhimavaram told TNM that places such as Vempa, Narsapuram, Bhimavaram (town) and Eluru (town) are seeing massive arrangements with the help of local politicians.
The cockfights are being held in restricted clubs and in many open places. During these fights, crores are expected to be exchanged in betting.
Cockfights in these areas are celebrated in the name of tradition and take place for three days, with people indulging in nearly month-long betting.
Last week, CM Chandrababu Naidu had warned his party lawmakers to stay away from cockfights and also told them that defying his order will cost them their MLA, MP tickets in the coming elections.
Cockfights were banned in 2014 by the Hyderabad High Court. Later, when the order was challenged, the HC refused to stay the ban and said that the ban will continue throughout the year, not just during Sankranti, in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The ban on cockfights was upheld by the Supreme Court.
However, politicians are still indulging in the cockfights. Earlier The New Indian Express reported Dy CM N Chinnarajappa as telling reporters that the government will honour the High Court directions while also honouring the Telugu peopleâ€™s tradition.
When TNM contacted Eluru Dy SP K Eshwar Rao, he said, "We have strict orders from above to prevent the cockfights. As of now, we have given bind over notices (warnings) to 248 people."
Those who have been given bind over notices belong to Bhimadolu, Dendupadu, Dwaraka, Tirumala, Nidamarru and Chebrolu villages in the area.
He also said "More than 110 FIRs were registered and an amount of Rs 30 lakhs has been seized till now this year.â€ť
Krishna districts' Nuzvidu Dy SP V Srinivasa Rao told TNM, "We have given bind over notices to nearly 100 people, FIRs were also registered on those who were caught while organising this sport."
District Collector Lakshmikantham has also stated that they will implement the High court orders.
Recently, Vempa - a village which is known for its high profile cockfights involving political leaders, has passed a resolution in Gramasabha seeking permission/ exception at least for three days for holding the event in a traditional manner,DC reporteed.
The resolution was passed in the presence of Bhimavaram MLA, Pulaparthi Ramanja-neyulu, Undi MLA, Vetukuri Venkata Siva Rama Raju, and other public representatives who sought the leaders to convince the government.
When the Dy SP (Eluru) was asked if villagers have given any representation to the police authorities, he said, "We haven't received any representation, even if we were given also, it is not possible. We are making sure to enforce the law and raids will be continued even after Sankranthi (Pongal).
On whether any political leaders are encouraging the sport, he said, "We have conducted raids on all the suspected areas and yesterday some local leaders were caught. We are filing cases against them, no excuses".
Cockfights are banned under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the AP Gaming Act, 1974.