Sankranti cockfights continued unabated across the West Godavari districts, Krishna and Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. Cockfight rings and makeshift tents were pitched across villages such as Yelurupadu, Kallakuru, Kalla, Seesali, Thaderu and Vempa, among others. Among these places, Vempa, located around 20 km from Bhimavaram, is hosting one of the largest cockfight rings, laying an elaborate white central tent.
For the benefit of spectators and punters, organisers with LED screens. political leaders belonging to all parties have been participating in this cock fights. A betting of Rs 10 lakh is gambled on each round of fight in each of the 200 designated fighting rings. It is estimated that at least Rs 500 crore change hands every year during the festival, as the venue also allows card and dice games.
Cockfighting was banned in the state in 2014 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the AP Gaming Act 1974. The ban was upheld again in 2018. Regardless of its legalities, cockfighting continues unabatedly with the patronage of political leaders and support of the local police. The bloodsport which now has earned a social acceptance as a “tradition” during the festival, was earlier restricted to the Kshatriya communities, who find a presence in West and East Godavari districts. In this sport, the roosters are tied with razor-sharp blades on their legs that often results in the death of the bird. If the bird loses in the competition, the opponent takes the betting amount and the bird as his possession.
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