Even as the Supreme Court has refused to vacate its order staying Jallikattu, a controversial animal taming sport, in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh has freely allowed controversial cockfights and bullock cart races in the coastal districts during the Sankranti festivities that spanned for three days from Thursday. Thousands of roosters were killed and hundreds of crores of rupees changed hands through betting on the sports.
As ministers, MPs and MLAs launched and personally supervised the cockfights and bull races, the police turned mute witnesses and looked sideways. Animal rights activists have protested against these sports, but the police argued that the Supreme Court’s ruling on Jallikattu was not applicable to Andhra Pradesh.
AP ministers Kollu Ravindra (Hands and Excise), Peethala Sujatha (Women Welfare), Devineni Uma Maheswara Rao (Irrigation) and Palle Raghunath Reddy (IT) and Telegu Desam Party MP from Elur Maganti Venkateswara Rao, government chief whip Chintamaneni Prabhakar, senior TDP MLA Kagita Venkat Rao personally launched cockfights across the coastal region.
There is cruelty involved in the sports as the birds are tied with short knives and blades to their legs and are forced to fight till one of them die. Unlike last year, when both the High Court and Andhra Pradesh Lokayukta issued orders banning cockfights and other animal sports, including bulls and bullock cart races, in the coastal districts, this year there were no specific instructions from either the High Court or the Lokayukta on the sports. The coastal districts of AP, especially East and West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur and Nellore, are hubs of cockfights and bullock cart races on which huge betting and gambling take place. Gamblers from Hyderabad and Mumbai have come here to join the locals in betting. As per official figures, around four lakh four-wheelers have entered these districts in the past two days to witness the cockfights.