Rooster kills man during banned cockfight in India

Roosters attack each other during a cockfight as part of Udpur festival near Dharamtul in Morigaon District of Assam , India on Jan 19,2021. (Photo by Anuwar Hazarika/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A man was killed by a rooster with a blade tied to its leg during an illegal cockfight in southern India, police said, bringing focus on a practice that continues in some Indian states despite a decades-old ban.

The rooster, with a 3-inch knife tied to its leg, fluttered in panic and slashed its owner, 45-year-old Thangulla Satish, in his groin last week, police inspector B. Jeevan said Sunday.

The incident occurred in Lothunur village of Telangana state.

According to Jeevan, Satish was injured while he prepared the rooster for a fight. "Satish was hit by the rooster’s knife in his groin and started bleeding heavily," the officer said, adding that the man died on the way to a hospital.

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Jeevan said police filed a case and were looking for over a dozen people involved in organizing the cockfight. If proven guilty, the organizers can be jailed for up to two years.

Cockfights are common in the southern Indian states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka despite a countrywide ban imposed in 1960. Animals rights activists have for long been calling to control the illegal practice, which is mainly organized as part of local Hindu festivals usually attended by hundreds of people, though the crowds sometimes swell to thousands. The cockfights are often held under the watch of powerful, local politicians and involve large sums of betting money.

Last year, a man was killed when a blade attached to his bird’s leg hit him in the neck during a cockfight in Andhra Pradesh. In 2010, a rooster killed its owner by slashing his jugular vein in West Bengal state.

According to police, the rooster involved in last week’s incident was among many other roosters prepared for the cockfight betting festival in Lothunur village.

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As the practice goes, a knife, blade or other sharp-edged weapon is tied to the leg of a bird to harm its rival. Such fights continue until one contestant is either dead or flees, declaring the other rooster the winner.

Officer Jeevan said the rooster was brought to the police station before being taken to a local poultry farm. "We may need to produce it before the court," he said.

Images of the rooster tied with a rope and pecking on grains at the police station were widely viewed on social media.