Guwahati: The Gauhati High Court on Thursday, in response to PETA India's application for interim relief in its case related to buffalo and bulbul fights in the state, directed concerned district administrations to stop any further buffalo fights (Moh-Juj) from taking place in the state of Assam.
The bench of Justice Manish Choudhury observed that any buffalo fights held in Assam after January 25, 2024, are prima facie illegal, as they are in violation of the time limit for holding such events imposed by the standard operating procedures (SOP) issued by the Assam government allowing Moh-Juj events.
The SOP had allowed buffalo and bulbul fights to be held only during the time of Magh Bihu celebrations, in the second week of January.
The bench, in particular, directed the authorities of Nagaon district to stop a buffalo fight scheduled to take place this weekend on the basis of evidence produced by PETA India. While proceedings in relation to PETA India's plea for the state's decision to allow such events to be deemed unconstitutional are to be decided, the court has ordered strict enforcement of the government's SOP in the interim.
In addition, the court directed the state to file an action taken report by Tuesday, February 6.
In the aftermath of the Assam government's decision to allow buffalo fights, PETA India filed a petition with the Gauhati High Court, making the case for the cruel spectacles to be prohibited once again. PETA India's petitions cite numerous violations of the central law in the conduct of these events. PETA India submitted investigations into these fights as evidence, which reveal that terrified and severely injured buffaloes were beaten to force them to fight.
PETA's plea included the report of an investigation into a buffalo fight held in Ahatguri in the Morigaon district of Assam on January 16, which 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. 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, as stated.
It was also submitted that owners and handlers dragged buffaloes around using ropes threaded through their sensitive nostrils. Some buffaloes' nostrils bled due to yanking, and many repeatedly licked their nostrils in an attempt to relieve the pain. Moreover, in violation of the SOP issued by the Government of Assam, no shade, water, or food was provided for the buffaloes during the fight, PETA stated.
"PETA India thanks the Hon'ble Gauhati High Court for directing that unauthorized buffalo fights be immediately stopped in Assam, with action taken against the organizers," says PETA India Advocacy Associate Tushar Kol. "We hope the court will recognize that this cruelty is a clear violation of central law and prohibit these violent fights."