The police initially made attempts to uphold the rule of law, but seemed to have finally given in to the powerful lobbies
Cockfights began with a war cry much ahead of the Sankranti festival in most parts of West Godavari district on Monday. The police, who initially made attempts to uphold the rule of law which prohibits the blood sport, seemed to have finally given in to the all-powerful lobbies thriving on it. The Andhra Pradesh Lok Ayukta directed the Police Superintendent of West Godavari district to submit a report on the measures being initiated to prevent cockfights while responding to a petition. Although the directive evoked a knee-jerk reaction from the police leading to seizure of roosters and money meant for betting here and there, it failed to have a lasting impact.
According to reports, the sport got off to a colourful start at all the main centres such as I. Bhimavaram Yandagandi, Vempa, Juvvalapalem, Prakriti Asram, Bhimavaram and Tanuku in the delta region by Monday noon. It also began in a similar fashion in the upland region also. Efforts are under way to organise the game even during the night under floodlights. Mobiles are working overtime sending text messages on the places where the fights are organised and their timing to the sport lovers.High stakes
The game, which is the main highlight of the three-day Sankranti festival, means killing of roosters on a large scale, betting with high stakes and the roaring liquor sales in the twin Godavari districts, apart from the mere festival-eve revelry and recreation. The sport draws people from far-off places like Hyderabad, Kadapa and even from the neighbouring States like Karnataka and Maharashtra. People who settled outside their native villages chose to return home without fail during the festival days to take part in the bloody sport and try their luck in the betting.
The battle grounds with huge pandals around got ready well in advance. A ring is made at the centre of the grounds, enabling the cocks, armed with sharp-edged blades, to go all out to finish off each other. A gallery is fabricated around the ring from where the people can watch the game with a nail-baiting suspense and indulge in betting on the `prospective’ roosters. Fights are organised even in the small cockpits outside the main grounds. Certain species like Arthavaram Parla, Nemali, Kaki and Dega are popular for their `ferocity’ and `fighting spirit’. They receive royal treatment from the trainers till the D-Day. They feed on expensive diets such as cashew, almond, meat and are given a regular bath in ponds and canals and muscle-flexing six months before the festival. The organisers preferred to conduct cockfights in isolated places like coconut gardens and farm fields. They collect large amounts as fee from players for each round of the fight, and from liquor and food stalls and the organisers of gambling.