Kendrapara: Cock-fight, an unlawful activity associated with gambling, is staged regularly in the interior villages of Kendrapara district in Odisha, according to animal rights activists.

The activists complain that the fights draw a large number of people from the countryside who put bets on the cocks.

The police in most cases does not take any action against the organisers, Sudhansu Kumar Parida of the animal rights group ''People for Animal'' regrets.

The activists said that it was very popular in the rural interiors of Odisha and the villagers defend it.

Sarpanch of Baulokani gram panchayat Udaya Nath Rout said, "Many people put bets on the cocks. Some win the bets while others lose. But for all, it has become a favourite pastime.”

He says the activity is very sadistic in nature as onlookers shout in pleasure when a cock gets wounded during the fight.

"The cocks have tiny knife-like objects tied to their legs. The sharp objects are meant to injure the opponent cocks," Parida explained.

The fighting arena is encircled with ropes. People put their bets ranging from Rs five to Rs 500. Those who put bets on the winning cock in the bout take away the whole of the sum and distribute it among themselves.

"The losers return empty-handed. The owner of the victorious cock also receives due share of betting money. Besides, he has the right to take away the losing cock,'' Dukhishyam Sahu, an avid lover of the game, said.

Sahu said he finds 'nothing wrong' in it."The game has been in vogue for about four decades.

People of all ages love to watch the cock fight. Putting small sum as bet has become a practice to add to the intensity of the game.''

He said that the betting stakes were only 'symbolic' and the poor people also stand to gain by way of selling their wares to those gathered to witness the sport.

However, Parida countered by arguing, “It’s out and out unlawful. Engaging birds in such a way goes against the rules of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.''

"As betting stakes are involved, it also infringes on the Prevention of Gambling Act,” Parida maintained.

Inspector of Mahakalpada police station, under whose jurisdiction the villages fall, Amitabh Mohanty said steps were being taken to stop the practice.