Defying orders of the Hyderabad High Court on conducting cockfights, two politicians in Andhra Pradesh participated in the blood sport in East Godavari's Pithapuram town on Thursday.
Kakinada MP Thota Narasimham and Pithapuram MLA SVSN Varma, both leaders of the TDP, took part in a cockfight as part of the Janmabhoomi Maa Vooru programme in the town.
According to reports, the organisers conducted various events, following which two white cocks were brought to the venue and handed over the two TDP leaders.
The two of them set the birds on each other, much to the amusement of a large crowd that had gathered at the venue. Media reports suggest that this was done in full view of police and revenue officials.
Last week, the MLA had spoken in favour of cockfights, saying, “When these animals indulge in fights we can’t stop them.”
He also stated that the SC order would not withstand in the state, and the fights would not be stopped.
All this, despite AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu's stern warning to party men against participating in the cockfights held during Sankranti.
The CM warned that those involved in the gambling sport and bring disrepute to the party wouldn’t be given a party ticket in the coming general elections.
Last week, the Hyderabad High Court pulled up the Andhra Pradesh government and directed it to ensure that no cockfights are held in the state.
The HC asked the state to follow the Supreme Court's directions and constitute a joint Inspection team to prevent cockfights, while also directing West Godavari's Superintendent of Police and District Collector to personally monitor the situation on the ground.
The sport, is a 'tradition' for many people living in rural areas of coastal Andhra, and extensive betting is also done, with several crore rupees exchanging hands every year.
The fight is usually between two birds, specially bred for the purpose, 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 banned under the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act, 1960, and the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974.