People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India announced on Wednesday that they have filed a lawsuit in the Gauhati High Court seeking to stop the buffalo and bulbul bird fights, which were recently held in Assam after nine years.
The petition claimed that several central laws were broken while performing the ancient ritual. "As evidence, PETA India submitted investigations into these fights which reveal that terrified and severely injured buffaloes were forced to fight through beatings and that starved and intoxicated bulbuls were made to fight over food," the animal rights group PETA India said in a statement.
The bulbul bird fight and buffalo combat were held during the Bhogali Bihu celebrations on January 15 and 16. The two were stopped in Assam in 2015 after the Supreme Court prohibited Tamil Nadu's Jallikattu. In 2023, however, the Supreme Court upheld legislation governing the Jallikattu and buffalo races in Karnataka.
Following the 2023 verdict, the BJP-led Assam government developed new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to allow the buffalo and bulbul bird fight. On January 15, a bulbul bird fight was held in Hajo, Kamrup district, and a buffalo combat was held in Ahotguri, Nagaon district, on January 16, as part of the Bhogali Bihu celebrations, nine years later.
"An investigation into a buffalo fight held on January 16 in Ahatguri, Morigaon district, revealed that to incite buffaloes to fight, their owners slapped them, pushed and shoved them, jabbed and struck them with wooden sticks, and pulled them by their nose ropes to force them to approach other buffaloes. When battles broke out, some owners and handlers stabbed the buffaloes with wooden poles and smacked them with bare hands to agitate them further. The buffaloes locked horns and fought, receiving bloody wounds to their necks, ears, faces, and foreheads; many were injured all over their bodies. The fighting raged till one of the two buffaloes broke free and escaped," PETA India reported.
According to PETA India, an investigation into a bulbul bird fight held on January 15 in Hajo revealed that red-vented bulbuls, which are protected under Schedule II of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, were illegally captured and incited to fight over food, going against their natural instincts.
"The bulbul birds were seized some days before the combat. Capturing protected wild birds is a sort of hunting that is banned. The birds are supposedly drugged with marijuana and fed other intoxicating herbs, bananas, black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon to excite them before the fight, after which they are starved for at least one night,” added PETA in the statement.
"Buffaloes and bulbuls are gentle animals who feel pain and terror and don't want to be forced into bloody fights in front of jeering crowds," says PETA India Advocacy Associate Tushar Kol.
As per reports, the Gauhati High Court will hear the petition again on Thursday (February 1), PETA India said.