The container ground -- a remote area off CST Road in Kurla -- came alive with cheers and sounds of a crowd comprising spectators, punters from south and central Mumbai, and participants around 8 am yesterday morning. The happy crowd was cheering on a blood fight – a fight of rams.
Over 100 spectators turned to witness two fights that lasted over half an hour each. Shockingly, the motley crowd comes together to organise the bloody combat despite the fights being illegal in India.
The bull-like rams were smuggled to the akhada (fight pitch) stashed in cars and SUVs to avoid the attention of animal activists and local police.
“The message was conveyed to the participants through a trusted network. The matches were originally supposed to be held at Kapadia Nagar ground in Kurla around 8 am. However, it was shifted to Container Ground in Kurla for security reasons at the last moment,” said a regular participant.
The first match was between rams named ‘Bhaijaan’ and ‘Definite’, while the second was to be held between ‘Trigger’ and ‘Patel’.
A temporary ring was setup with the help of bamboos and ropes. The rules of the games are clear. The ram that flees from the pitch is the loser.
“The animals are specifically bred and trained to fight each other within an enclosed pit or ring for the benefit of their masters who place bets on the animal they believe will win,” added the participant.
“The fights are extremely brutal, with animals often fighting to death. Last year, one ram died in the fight. An FIR was registered at a local police station and the case is still on.”
The results were out in less than half an hour. Superstar ‘Trigger’ and ‘Bhaijan’ emerged winners in their respective matches. At the end of the game, a trophy was rewarded to Trigger’s proud owner.
In the process, ‘Patel’, who was pitched against ‘Trigger’ -- the ram with the most-experience -- was severely injured in the incident. Despite the grievous injury, there was no immediate medical help offered. His owners claimed that their pet was in ‘severe pain’ and they would refer it to the doctor only after reaching home.
Surprisingly, the police seemed to be completely unaware of the incident. When contacted, DCP Dhanajay Kulkarni said, “I am not aware of the incident. I need to check on this.”
Sources in the police department revealed that organised animal fighting is usually a secret industry and very difficult for law enforcement to infiltrate. It is rare for investigators to find a fight in progress.
Animal fighting goes hand-in-hand with other crimes like cruelty to animals and gambling. If law enforcement officers are able to seize the animals in a raid, they are catalogued as evidence and later provided medical treatment. “Sheltering such animals is a difficult task with no such facility made available in the force. Recently the yellow gate police had a tough time sheltering goats that were smuggled into the city amidst banned contraband,” said a police officer.
Lt Col (Dr) JC Khanna, secretary, BSPCA, said, “Such fights can lead to severe injuries to the animals. There are chances of brain haemorrhage and at times, even their backbone breaks. Any entertainment involving animals requires permission from Animal Welfare Board of India. Since these fights are illegal, there is no question of permission. The organisers can be booked for cruelty to animals.”