Cockfights go on unchecked in Andhra Pradesh

MLA inaugurates sport in West Godavari district

Organisers and punters had the final say on conducting cockfights during the Sankranti festival this year too, as the game of blood was conducted in hundreds of arenas in East Godavari and West Godavari districts.

Stake amount from a few hundreds to several lakhs changed hands within no time and the prohibited gambling (‘Gundata’ in the local parlance) too was conducted on the sidelines of the cockfights.

People descended on the Godavari districts from faraway places like Hyderabad and Bengaluru only to take part in the cockfights and none of the organisers disappointed them, as the arrangements were on the expected lines.

Cockfights with active participation began on Monday morning with a battery of swanky cars zooming into the arenas.

No visible policing

Interestingly, the fights began with a traditional ‘pooja’ by the organisers. By afternoon, all the venues were jam-packed with punters and the general public. There was no visible policing at any of the arenas and even the entry of media into some venues was prohibited by the organisers concerned. A good number of arenas were arranged in the rural pockets around Kakinada, Pithapuram and Tuni, where the rush picked from the morning hours.

In the Konaseema region of the East Godavari district, at least six to eight venues per revenue mandal were earmarked for cockfights and the ones located at Amalapuram, Sakurru Gunnepalli and Allavaram were said to be ‘reserved’ for punters who put their stakes in lakhs of rupees. These high-end venues were also there in West Godavari district located in and around Gundugolanu and Bhimavaram. Besides supplying liquor and non-vegetarian food to the high-end punters, the organisers also take precautions such as arranging a medical practitioner near the gallery to provide first aid to the birds that suffered knife injuries.

While business people had already made their presence felt, a few personalities from the Telugu film industry were expected to join the activity by Tuesday.

A political touch was given to the cockfights in West Godavari district with Undi MLA Vetukuri Sivarama Raju formally inaugurating cockfights at Undi.

Interestingly, not many elected representatives came forward to pose for photographs and gave video bytes to the media this year as the general elections were approaching fast.

In Bhimavaram town, fans of Telangana politician Talasani Srinivasa Yadav arranged banners welcoming him to the Sankranthi festivities. Mr. Yadav is scheduled to have a darshan of local deity Mavullamma and take part in the festival celebrations on Tuesday. The grape wine has in that several politicians from Telangana would take part in the cockfights in the Godavari districts in the next two days.

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