Amritsar: What can you expect now from this cruel world, when some people don’t shy away from hurting and using speechless animals for their own benefit. A place where drugs use is rampant, Kabutarbaz feed their pigeons and doves with opium mixed in water and inject them with drugs in Punjab.
The medicines keep the birds flying for hours, say the animal rights activist. This inhumane act used by kabutabaz people for gambling purposes. As a sport, Kabutarbazi was developed in Mughal era, but now it has become an obsession for some.
Causing pain or death to birds is punishable under the Prevention of Animal Cruelty (PCA) Act and IPC Section 429, besides betting comes under the Public Gambling Act, 1867. It specifically prohibits usage of “birds or animals” in Section 13, reports India Today.
“But who is able to monitor it?” asks Abhinav Srihan of NGO, Fauna Police. “Several thousand rupees are put on the bet, and obviously, the kabutarbaz (pigeon herder) will do anything to win. The harm caused to the pigeon through afeem (opium), or by the stress of staying air-borne for hours, is of least concern,” he adds.
Use of Social Media to promote Kabutarbazi:
Facebook is used to notify the sport’s events to interested people. These sites show the location of the pigeon-sport clubs, dates etc. Seasonal and annual championships are held with huge prize money and gifts like motorbikes and refrigerator. Duly, posters are put up for such competitions.
An activist, who works in Punjab against these games, explained, “There are three types of kabutarbazi held. One is where two or more parties make their trained pigeons fly. The bird that stays longest in the sky and does not touch the ground, win the game.” This is where the use of drugs comes to play, he added.
“The second is where pigeons have to reach a destination; the one which reaches first is declared the victor. And the third is where the herd of pigeons belonging to one owner has to gherao the herd of another and bring it to his master,” he informed.
Abhinav said, “We are clearly not against all kinds of pigeon sports. It has also helped communities, over decades, preserve native pigeon species such as Kalsera, Lalsera, Lal Chhapka, Kala Chhapka, Jeera, Hara, Neelam and Kathwa. In fact, sometimes the owners take better care of the pigeons than the government-owned shelter homes. It is gambling and the use of drugs that we strictly abhor and object to. These must be controlled by the enforcement agencies. Nikunj Sharma, Spokesperson, PETA, told Mail Today, “Earlier, the owners used to slap a rubber whip on the walls, which made a cracker-like noise, and scared the pigeons away from coming and resting on the terrace during the competition.”
The pigeons are trained not to sit anywhere lest they become the property of other herders, he pointed out. “It’s likely that kabutarbaz are now using drugs. Pouches of afeem (opium) and other drugs anyway come so cheap in parts of Punjab these days,” he said.