Following objections from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the Agra district administration on Saturday stopped Kabootarbaazi, a contest of trained pigeons, which began at Kuberpur on Friday.
The six-day event had received permission from the district administration. However, the AWBI, a body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, wrote to the Agra district magistrate (DM) objecting to it on the ground of cruelty to pigeons. The board also said the contest violated the Performing Animals Act and was being held without the permission of the board.
The event began on December 25 at Kuberpur near Yamuna Expressway in Agra. The administration banned it Saturday evening.
Additional District Magistrate (ADM), City, R K Srivastava told The Sunday Express that the event used to be held with due permission from the district administration. “But for the past 3-4 years it could not be held. This year, the Kabootarbaaz association again decided to hold the contest from December 25 and they sought permission too. The permission was given, but it was cancelled on December 26 due to objection from AWBI,” he said.
AWBI filed its objection with DM Agra through email on December 25, after which a committee was constituted, which took decision to ban the event, added Srivastava.
Agra DM Pankaj Kumar told The Indian Express that the matter has been forwarded to the police to ensure that no such event is organised.
Agra SSP Preetinder Singh said that the joint committee which banned the Kabootarbaazi event comprised the ADM (City) and SP (City).
The Kabootarbaazi contest involves nearly 2,500 pigeons, which are trained by their masters, known as Khalifas. While the pigeons are in flight, the master gives directions with his voice, which the birds follow. Some birds cannot follow the commands and end up landing in the rival’s camps, and the camp with most birds wins.
“After getting the information, we apprised the Agra DM about our objections. No such permission has been taken from AWBI and it also comes under cruelty towards animals. We have also provided him relevant court orders,” said Kamna Pandey, co-opted member of AWBI.
She also said that pigeons used in the contest were in distress, fear and often fought with other pigeons, causing injuries. Harmful colours are applied on the pigeons for identification, she added.