Over thousand cockfighting knives seized in Andhra days ahead of Sankranthi

Despite a ban on cockfighting in the state, the practice continues every year during Sankranthi, especially in East and West Godavari districts.
Cockfighting knives
Cockfighting knives
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Less than two weeks ahead of Sankranthi, Andhra Pradesh police have seized around 1,310 knives to be used in cockfights in West Godavari district, a hotbed of elaborately organised cockfights and gambling during the festive season, despite a ban on the practice. Tadepalligudem Rural police arrested a 37-year-old man named Paccha Musaleshwara Rao, a native of Eluru town, who had set up a business of sharpening knives used in cockfights.

Police seized a total of 1,310 knives, three knife-sharpening instruments, and one rooster from the man’s residence, with a total value of Rs 6,91,000, police said. On January 3, based on information received by Tadepalligudem Rural police, Musaleshwara Rao’s residence in Krishnayapalem village was searched. The man, who had moved from Eluru to Krishnayapalem in search of work, was staying in a rented house and working as an auto driver, according to police.

In order to earn additional income during Sankranthi, he purchased machines to sharpen knives used in cockfights and was charging Rs 30 per knife.The man was booked under relevant sections of the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and section 109 of the Indian Penal Code. 

Andhra Pradesh has banned cockfighting since 2014 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the AP Gaming Act 1974, and the ban was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2018. Despite the ban, cockfighting continues in the state, especially in East and West Godavari districts, with the involvement of businessmen, political leaders, NRIs, and other influential people. Sharp knives are tied to the rooster’s feet, in order to fatally injure the opponent’s rooster in the cockfight. Huge amounts of money, running into several crores, are bet on these fights. While police often seize a huge amount of knives during this period, they are often accused of not taking stringent action against the practice as it is usually backed by local political leaders. 

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