After it was reported that roosters were being sold online classified websites like OLX ahead of Sankranti in Andhra, despite the legal ban, the company has promised action.
In response to a petition by The Humane Society International, India, OLX's legal team said, "As soon as we got to know about the order, we pro actively deployed technical filters to prevent advertisements relating to sale of roosters from going live on our platform. Our content quality team continues to comb the site for any breach of the filters."
Despite the Supreme Court upholding the Hyderabad High Court's order prohibiting cockfights, organisers in the state seem to pay no heed to the ban.
Online, the standard prices ranged from below Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 for 'trained' cocks.
The sellers were from various locations in the state like Vijayawada, Kadapa, Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Rajahmundry, Guntur, Nellore and Chittoor. Many were also selling multiple birds, for a 'fixed price'.
There were also many Facebook pages that put up photos of the birds for sale.
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.
According to reports, anywhere between Rs 600 crore and Rs 900 crore is expected to be wagered in the three days of the festival this year.
â€śEven non-resident Indians come to their native villages during Sankranti to place bets on cockfights. This year, the minimum amount for each game is not less than Rs 1 crore. It goes up to Rs 15 crore, depending on the number of people involved,â€ť an enthusiast from Bhimavaram, told Hindustan Times.
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.
Though the police have constituted several teams to prevent the fights, politicians continue to covertly support the 'sport', to appeal to their voter base.
In fact, the recent SC ruling also came after Andhra BJP leader K Raghu Ramakrishna Raju filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court, which sought a stay on the Hyderabad High Court's ban order.
Raju argued that cockfights were a traditional sport and the HC order infringed on an individual's freedom to pursue a 'sport' of their choice. "In fact, the court ruling is unconstitutional and hence should be declared null and void," his counsel was quoted as saying.
Cockfighting is banned under the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act, 1960, and the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974.