Andhra Pradesh

A favourite pastime

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Crores change hands as heavy betting goes on during the bloodsport

Come Sankranti and the dusty grounds in the rural settings become a battle ground. Flesh is slashed and the clay in the arena gets sprinkled with blood.

Sankranti is the harvest festival, and one must be wondering how can it turn into a battleground. Well folks, the inference is about the bloodsport of cockfight or rooster fight or ‘kodi pandem’ as called colloquially.

Going by the history, it is an ancient sport which can be dated back to the old civilisations of Indus, Chinese, Persian or Greek. But it gained historical foothold in Andhra Pradesh with the battle of Palnadu or ‘Palnati yudham’ fought sometime between 1178 and 1182 AD between Nalagamaraju and his step brother Malidevaraju, where a rooster fight was organised to decide the fate of the battle.

Across region

Though in the present day, the main arenas in the State for rooster fights during the festive days are found in the districts of East and West Godavari and Krishna and Guntur, it has gained pace in the recent times in Visakhapatnam also.

Similar to the Godavari and Krishna districts, where stakes go up in crores of rupees during the fights, in the festive season, Visakhapatnam of late has been seeing high stake betting, which are organised albeit illegally.

Rooster fights has been present since long time in the district, but of late, the stakes have gone up, said ACP City Task Force Trinad Rao.

Festive ambience

For the last five to six years, a couple of lawmakers in the city and in the district have been organising open arenas on the outskirts and thousands of people have been visiting them to bet their money on the roosters. The arenas start functioning at least a day before ‘Bhogi’ and continue for about four days. The rooster fights are also organised in private farmhouses, away from the glare of the enforcement agencies.

But this year, with the YSR Congress Party government in power, it is to be seen, how things shape up.

Police say that this year it will not be allowed, as in the previous years the lawmakers reportedly had protection from the higher ups in the government.

Fake currency

One trend that has emerged in the last few years, is the exchange of fake Indian currency at the arenas.

"The stakes fly high and cash in huge quantity is exchanged on the spot. This facilitates the easy exchange of fake currency. In 2018 and in 2019, about ₹2 lakh fake currency was confiscated during raids at various spots across the district during the festive period," said a senior police officer.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 4:34:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/a-favourite-pastime/article30546348.ece

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