Gauhati High Court Reprimands Assam Government Over Unauthorised Buffalo Fights, Following PETA India’s Urgent Plea

Posted on by Erika Goyal

The Hon’ble Gauhati High Court, in response to a recent plea filed by PETA India highlighting the numerous unauthorised buffalo fights taking place in the state of Assam beyond 25 January – the state’s standard operating procedure (SOP) regarding buffalo (Moh-juj) and bulbul bird fights restricts holding buffalo fights beyond this date – writes that “authorities are not taking the matter seriously” and that it takes “serious exception” to their inaction. The court has granted the state an additional two weeks to file its response and has explicitly stated that failing to comply will result in decisive action. In continuation of its previous interim orders, the court also directed the state government to ensure that no unauthorised buffalo fights are organised in Assam.

PETA India notified the court and district authorities that illegal buffalo fights have taken place since February and as recently as 14 April. 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 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 bodies. The fights lasted until one of the two buffaloes broke away and fled.

Assam Buffalo Fight Investigation = from officialPETAIndia on Vimeo.

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. The birds are reportedly captured several days before a fight. Capturing protected wild birds is considered a form of hunting and is illegal.

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 a fight. During a 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.

Bulbul Bird Fighting Investigation from officialPETAIndia on Vimeo.

 PETA India’s petition to the 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 banned by the state government in 2015, to resume in 2024 is a regressive step which threatens to undo almost a decade of progress in human and animal rights.

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