Gauhati High Court Directs Assam Government to Stop Unauthorised Buffalo Fights Plaguing the State Unabated, at PETA India’s Plea

Posted on by Erika Goyal

In a just-released order, the Hon’ble Gauhati High Court, considering new evidence submitted by PETA India on the persistent issue of unauthorised buffalo fights taking place in the state, has directed state authorities to issue internal directions to administration/competent authorities to rigorously enforce the standard operating procedure (SOP) regarding buffalo (Moh-juj) and bulbul bird fights. Specifically, state authorities were instructed to notify the district administration/concerned authorities of the previous order dated 6 February 2024, which directed strict compliance with the SOP. The SOP restricts holding buffalo fights on any dates other than 15 to 25 January.

The order has been passed in view of a new affidavit submitted by PETA India highlighting several buffalo fight events that took place despite the SOP restriction and the court’s previous orders. Two first information reports registered on the basis of PETA India’s complaints regarding the abject cruelty to buffaloes and risk to human life witnessed at two such illegal events conducted in Raha Koroiguri and Kasomari in the Nagaon district of Assam were placed on record. PETA India also filed several pieces of correspondence issued to the district commissioners of Nagaon and Morigaon, revealing that buffalo fights were continuing unabated despite the court’s order dated 6 February 2024, with authorities failing to take necessary action. With respect to PETA India’s plea for buffalo and bulbul fighting events to be declared unconstitutional in the state of Assam, the High Court granted the state an additional three weeks to file its response and the case was adjourned until 1 April 2024.


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In its writ petitions with the Gauhati High Court, PETA India makes the case for the cruel spectacles of buffalo and bulbul fighting to be fully prohibited, citing numerous violations of central law in the conduct of these events. As evidence, PETA India submitted investigations into these fights, which reveal that terrified and severely injured buffaloes were beaten to force them to fight and that bulbuls were kept hungry to force them to fight for food.

An investigation into a buffalo fight held in Ahatguri in the Morigaon district of Assam on 16 January revealed that to instigate buffaloes to fight, owners slapped, pushed, and shoved them; jabbed and struck them with wooden sticks; and pulled them by their nose ropes to force them to approach one another. When fights were underway, some owners and handlers jabbed the buffaloes with sticks and whacked them with bare hands to cause them further distress. The buffaloes locked horns and fought, sustaining bloody wounds to their necks, ears, faces, and foreheads – many had injuries all over their body. The fights lasted until one of the two buffaloes broke away and fled.

An investigation conducted into a bulbul bird fight held in Hajo in Assam on 15 January revealed that red-vented bulbuls – who are protected under Schedule II of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 – were illegally captured and incited, against their natural instincts, to fight over food. It is reported that the birds are captured several days before the fight. Capturing protected wild birds is considered a form of hunting and is illegal.


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The birds are reportedly commonly drugged with marijuana and fed other intoxicating herbs, bananas, black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon to agitate them, after which they’re starved for at least one night before the fight. During the fight, a piece of banana is dangled in front of the hungry birds, inciting them to attack each other. Each fight lasted approximately five to 10 minutes, and handlers forced exhausted birds to continue fighting by repeatedly blowing air on them.

PETA India’s petition to the High Court points out that buffalo and bulbul fights violate the Constitution of India; The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960; and judgements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, including in Animal Welfare Board of India vs A Nagaraja. Such fights are inherently cruel, cause immeasurable pain and suffering to the animals forced to participate, and contradict the tenets of ahimsa (non-violence) and compassion, which are integral to Indian culture and tradition. Allowing these events, which were previously banned by the state government in 2015, to recommence this year is a regressive step which threatens to undo almost a decade of progress in human and animal rights.

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