While the state saw a sharp rise in bullfights in recent times, more than 30 bullfights are reported to have taken place within the jurisdiction of Colva police station itself since the beginning of 2021 – in less than six weeks – at an average of more than five bullfights per week.
People for Animals (PFA) Goa, an animal welfare organization has taken the initiative against this by demanding the Colva police to register a first information report (FIR) and investigate a specific bullfight in the fields of Benaulim on February 16.
A typical dhirio involves two specially reared fighting bulls or male buffaloes, with fine physiques and sharpened horns, head-butting each other until one scampers away from the ring, indicating defeat. In combat, the participating bulls sometimes adorn a distinctive coloured sash, quite like boxers who wear color-coded attire to match their respective corners of the ring.
Since such fights are illegal, invitations to these affairs are passed on at extremely short notice (an hour at maximum) through private groups on social media platforms, filled with eager dhirio aficionados. Apart from invitations, fighting bull owners often use such restricted groups to dare others or challenge other fighting bull owners to combat.
“This is both an alarming and an unprecedented trend. The practice of dhirio is illegal as per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA). Moreover, the practice was banned by the high court of Bombay at Goa in 1997,” the complaint signed by PFA president and advocate Norma Alvares reads.
To put an end to this menace it is critical that cases of bullfights or dhirios are investigated on a war-footing. Bullfights that lead to killing or maiming of animals is a criminal offence both under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA) and the Indian Penal Code, 1860,” Alvares stated.
The complaint has also been addressed to the director-general of Goa Police (DGP), Mukesh Kumar Meena, the director of animal husbandry and veterinary services, Kuldeep Singh Gangar, and the district collector, South Goa – Ruchika Katyal, asking for immediate steps to ban all types of animal fights, including dhirios.
PI Anand Shirodkar who took charge of the Colva police station on Wednesday said that he is yet to receive the hard copy, but is aware of the incidents through social media posts. “I have yet to study the matter. But we will bookcases against the violators,” he said.
Despite many complaints about illegal bullfights by both animal welfare organizations as well as locals, the state government has not yet come up with a proper mechanism to deal with the matter.
Several politicians across party lines over the years have promised to legalize bullfighting. In 2015, the state legislative assembly even formed a House Committee to work out ways to provide legal cover to dhirios in Goa by amending existing laws.
In 2018, Goa’s Animal Husbandry Minister Mauvin Godinho also told the state legislative assembly that the BJP-led coalition government would lobby with the central government for the legalization of bullfighting. But nothing has been finalized yet. Thus the animal welfare workers have taken the matter into their hands to get a proper solution for this.