“The illegal practice of animal fighting, be it with buffaloes or bulbuls, involves immense cruelty that ultimately results in distress, injury and painful death of most of these animals,” wrote N.G. Jayasimha, managing director of Humane Society International/India, in a letter to Gogoi.
Such fights are organised during the Bihu festival held between Jan 14 and 16 in various districts of Assam like Sivsagar, Nagaon, Morigaon and Kamrup.
Jayasimha, also a member of the Animal Welfare Board of India, said hundreds of buffaloes are forced to participate in fights for a reward of Rs.10,000 or more.
Buffalo fights take place in Ahatguri, a village in Morigaon district, in tournaments since 1972 as means of entertainment where the buffaloes bleed profusely and get severely injured, he said.
According to the letter, bulbuls (songbirds), protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, are captured from the wild by villagers who then train them by intoxicating their food with marijuana and starve the bird a night before the fight.
In May 2014, the Supreme Court passed an order prohibiting all animal races and fights, directing the Animal Welfare Board and the government to prevent infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering to animals.