Staff Reporter

BJP says it is an ancient ritual of Tulunadu

Police say there is gambling in the name of cockfights

Say they will not interfere if it is a low-key affair

KASARAGOD: To its supporters, cockfight, an ancient sport involving a fight between specially reared fowls held at the temples precincts in northern parts of Kasaragod, is not a blood sport but a feature of the rich cultural heritage of Tulunadu and an ancient ritual associated with the ‘daivasthanams’ (temples) here.

But the State police, which have initiated stringent action against the sport, point out that apart from the aspect of cruelty to the bird involved in the cockfight, in which the fowls are often grievously injured or killed, another issue that necessitates police intervention is the gambling in the name of cockfights and the threat posed by gamblers to law and order.

The initiative of the police has met with stiff resistance from believers. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) district committee, in a resolution, demands that the police stop interfering in the cockfight as it is a part of the temple rituals here. The resolution warns that the party will resist any such attempt.

Cockfights, known as ‘kozhi kettu,’ is held at the temples in rural areas of Kasaragod and Manjeswaram, which were once part of erstwhile Tulunadu. Specially bred fowls which have sharp blades attached to its body fight it out at the temple grounds. The fight may often end when one of the fowls falls seriously injured or dead.

Police officers say that the cockfight often involves betting rackets, which include those who conduct it and the spectators. The betting often involves several lakhs of rupees and the losers often indulge in violence forcing the police to interfere. Action is being taken on the basis of the Kerala games Act. The police say they would not interfere if the cockfight is a low-key affair held as a part of temple rituals.

But BJP leaders say that the issue of gambling is not a valid reason to ban cockfight. The police should take steps to bring to book those involved in gambling and the BJP is not against it. But the police had been unable to do it. Will the government ban cricket just because some people indulge in betting on cricket matches, they ask.