Jorhat, Dec. 9: A young tea labourer died today after a rooster, its legs fitted with razor-sharp steel blades and knives, suddenly flew out of the cockfighting arena and attacked him.
The incident took place at New Towkok tea garden under Namtola police station in Sivasagar district this morning. Tulsi Mahali, 32, of number 10 line of the labour quarters of the garden belonging to Jayshree Tea Company, was a casual labourer of the garden.
A rooster is usually trained to severely injure or kill another rooster during a cockfight. The birds fight until one of them dies or is critically injured.
Executive member of Sivasagar district unit of the Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association, Shyamal Nayak, who is from a nearby garden and visited Tulsi’s house, said according to Tulsi’s family, he had gone out to the fields near the puja mandap of the estate where cockfights are organised on Sundays and a large gathering takes place to gamble on the birds. Hooch, too, is available in such places.
Nayak said the association had been submitting memoranda to the district and Chariadeo sub-divisional administrations to crack down on gambling, drinking and cockfights that are organised in the tea garden areas. He alleged that several appeals have gone unheeded.
He said Tulsi along others had placed bids on a rooster. Suddenly, one of the birds flew away from fight and hit Tulsi as a result of which the knife attached to one of its legs pierced his lower abdomen.
Nayak said Tulsi was taken to the garden hospital which referred him to the Charaideo sub-divisional hospital at Rajapukhuri where he was declared brought dead. The body was later brought to his garden quarters.
He said it was not exactly clear whether the bird hit Tulsi after it was being chased by its owner to fight again — the rooster was losing out to the other bird — or by any other person who had placed bids on the rooster.
Tulsi’s younger brother, Ram Dayal Mahali, told this correspondent over phone that the family was in shock. “We are shocked that our brother died from a rooster attack,” he said, adding that no one from the organisers of the cockfight came to their house to tell them what actually happened that led to his brother’s death.
Ram Dayal said a few members of the village defence party came in the afternoon, but police did not come to the house to inquire into the incident.
A police officer of Namtola police station said he had heard about the death of a person in the garden because of “some accident” and would inquire into it.
Tulsi’s father was a permanent worker of the garden. Tulsi left behind a wife and two children.
Cockfighting is a traditional game and the roosters are tormented to make them aggressive. They are also given various drugs to increase their level of endurance.