High-profile betters gamble in cockfights during Sankranti and make a mockery of the relevant Act
Come Sankranti and coastal Andhra is all set to raise a toast to roosters. On the face of it, there may be nothing eye-pleasing about a gory sport in which cocks get wounded and killed.
But given the increasing craze for betting on cockfights, it is expected that that the stakes are likely to double to Rs. 200 crore, compared to last year’s Rs. 100 crore.
Throwing caution to the winds and ignoring the official ban and police warnings against cockfights, brand new cars with tinted glasses criss-crossed the Konaseema villages on Sunday afternoon, Bhogi day, carrying a host of political leaders and elected representatives – from sarpanches, to Mandal and Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituency members and MLAs.
Cutting across party lines and ‘barriers’ of caste and region, friends and relatives of Ministers, cricketers, former MLAs and Opposition leaders hailing from Telangana were invited to indulge themselves.
In Amalapuram rural mandal, represented by Minister P. Viswaroop, specially in Godilanka, Godi, Yedurlanka village in I. Polavaram mandal, Vedireswaram, Podagatlapalli in Ravulapalem mandal, Kothapeta, Razole, Sakhinetipalli mandals, colourful invitations were distributed by organisers to people to participate in the gambling.
The impact of increased prices of feed to rear roosters, steep increase in liquor prices have all led to a sharp increase in the stakes on the betting. Even people from small villages went on a spree, betting from a minimum of Rs. 2,500 up to Rs. 1 lakh a round.
No impact of warnings
The fights between the specially-bred and trained cocks are held in the fields with thousands watching the spectacle. Steel blades or knives are tied to the cocks’ legs and the fight is till the finish. Such is the craze that there are fights under floodlights too. “Through cockfights we net between Rs. 2 crore and Rs. 3 crore a day and liquor sales range between Rs. 1 lakh and 2 lakh a day,” said Suribabu, a village head. “We have sent our teams to arrest gamblers. We are doing our best,” said East Godavari Superintendent of Police P. Siva Sankar Reddy.
Eluru Special Correspodnent adds: Surrounded by paddy fields, a small patch, with hardly five acres, near I. Bhimavaram under Akiveedu mandal in West Godavari district looks like a bloody battlefield for the roosters poised to take a plunge into a deadly sport which began on Sunday.
It, however, seems to be a source of fun for onlookers, a prospective business for vendors, and high-stake gambling for betters.
Half a dozen battlegrounds, small and big, for hosting cockfights, rows of roosters in pens seemingly waiting for their turn for the do-or-die battle, gambling dens, liquor outlets, biryani stalls, etc. make it the most happening place. Cockfights in this village located on the banks of the Upputeru creek mean high-stake gambling, attracting high-profile betters.