11 Gamblers Arrested in Ganjam

Berhampur, Dec 29: Eleven alleged gamblers were arrested on charge of indulging in betting during cock-fight near Bhanjanagar in Ganjam district, police said on Sunday.

Several other gamblers fled the bank of Jamuni river when police raided the area on Thursday night, said Inspector In-Charge of Bhanjanagar police station, A K Sahu.

Police seized 14 motorcycles, 13 cellphones and Rs 1,915 from the spot. The arrested persons are from Bhanjanagar, Aska, Dharakote and Sorada. "We suspect someone from Berhampur was organising the cockfights," said Sahu.

Cockfight is organised in villages on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. Fights between specially bred and trained cocks are held on open grounds with hundreds of people witnessing the intense showdown.

Knives are tied to the cocks legs and the fight continues till death of a bird. When a bird dies, the winner bird's owner take away the bird and the money. Sometimes money on betting crosses Rs 1 lakh, a villager said.

"It is nothing but high-stake gambling. We have booked them on charges of indulging in gambling and cruelty to birds," police said.

Cockfight is very popular in rural Andhra Pradesh. The cockfight gamblers from the neighbouring state have migrated to bordering districts in Odisha after a crackdown there, police said.

Last year, police arrested 20 gamblers from Alipur near Aska and seized Rs 9,000 a day after Makar Sankranti. "We are keeping vigil on such illegal practice and taking action against organisers and gamblers," they said.