VIJAYAWADA: Contrary to the claims of police on strict implementation of the ban imposed by Supreme Court and High Court on cockfights during Sankranti festival, cockfights were organised in a big way in many parts of Krishna, Guntur, twin Godavari districts and several parts of Rayalaseema.
The month-long efforts of police officers in destroying the cockfight rings across the State, preventive arrests of previous offenders and bind over cases against the suspects, failed to yield the expected result as the blood sport went unchecked on the first day of the Sankranti festival on Wednesday.
With the interference of political leaders especially from the ruling YSRC, the State police, who warned of severe action against the organisers and made elaborate arrangements to prevent cockfights, remained mute spectators.
Thousands thronged the villages to celebrate the festival by watching the cockfights, playing gambling and eating a variety of dishes from the makeshift stalls. Elaborate arrangements were made at the multiple venues. Local MLAs and leaders from all political parties participated in the cockfights. Huge tents with seating arrangements have been put up. In Krishna district, cockfights and gambling were organised at Ibrahimpatnam, G Kondur, Nuzvid, Musunuru, Kankipadu, Gudivada, Chatrai, Agiripalli, Mylavaram and other mandals of the district.
According to Krishna district SP M Ravindranath Babu, a total of 66 cases were registered and 146 persons were arrested for organising cockfights. Police seized `1.19 lakh, 14 roosters and 219 rooster knives, Police destroyed the arenas in a few villages and took some organisers into custody.
Vijayawada Police Commissioner Bathini Sreenivasulu said 27 persons were arrested for illegally organising cockfights, playing gambling and possessing rooster knives under the Commissionerate limits. Meanwhile, cockfights were organised on a massive scale in many parts of Krishna, Guntur and twin Godavari districts to mark the Sankranti celebrations.
While the Undi TDP MLA Manthena Ramaraju inaugurated the Sankranti celebrations at Seesala village in Kalla mandal of West Godavari district, punters and gamblers rushed to the arenas and participated in cockfights. VIP galleries were arranged at the arenas to watch cockfights.
According to sources, crores of rupees changed hands in cockfights and gambling held in Bhimavaram, Eluru, Denduluru, Undi, Yalamanchili, Narsapuram, Akiveedu, Jangareddygudem, Chintalapudi and Tadepalligudem.
The same is the situation in East Godavari district with the police failing to control the cockfight organisers and punters. According to information reaching here, around `100 crore changed hands in the district. Kothapeta YSRC MLA Ch Jaggireddy inaugurated the cockfights in his constituency. Prakasam police arrested 13 persons for organising cockfights and seized seven roosters, 30 knives and `40,040 cash.