Two people died in Andhra Pradesh during separate instances of cockfights on the occasion of Sankranthi on Sunday, January 15. The incidents occurred in West Godavari and Kakinada districts, where cockfights were organised despite a ban on the practice. Sharp knives are tied to the roosterâ€™s feet in order to fatally injure the opponentâ€™s rooster in the cockfight, and huge amounts of money are usually bet on these fights.
One of the victims, Padma Rao (20), attended the cockfight in Ananthapalli in Nallajerla mandal. One of the roosters, which had knives attached to its legs, charged at the youth and the knife pierced his leg, leading to heavy bleeding and his nerves being severed. While he was rushed to hospital, he was pronounced dead. Ananthapalli Circle Inspector Lakshmareddy told TNM that the incident occurred at around 1 pm on Sunday, and that the organisers of the cockfight were booked under charges of negligence.
In the second incident, which happened in Velanka village in Kakinada district, a man named Gande Surya injured his wrist while trying to tie a knife to the roosterâ€™s leg. He began bleeding profusely and succumbed before he could be taken to a hospital. Tirupati Rao, Sub Inspector of Kirlampudi, told TNM that in this case as well, the organisers were booked for negligence.
Cockfights have been banned in Andhra Pradesh since 2014, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the AP Gaming Act 1974, and this was later upheld by the Supreme Court in 2018. However, 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. On Sankranthi, cockfights take place throughout the state and are particularly popular in the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, including NTR, Krishna, Eluru, West Godavari, East Godavari, Dr. BR Ambedkar Konaseema, Kakinada, Rajamahendravaram, Guntur, Prakasam, and Nellore.
Major arrangements were made in the Godavari districts of Andhra for those attending the illegal cockfights. Reports state that tents and barriers were set up in several places to accommodate crowds, and that lodges and hotels reached capacity. Gambling also widely takes place during cockfights, with huge amounts of money changing hands.