The Gauhati HC stressed on the illegality of buffalo fights held after January 25 citing violations of time constraints outlined in the SOP set by the Assam government. (Image: Reuters/File)
The court’s interim order mandated strict adherence to the Assam government’s SOP on such events. The state is required to submit an action-taken report by February 6
The Gauhati High Court has temporarily halted any future buffalo fight, known as moh-juj in Assamese, in response to a plea by PETA India for interim relief.
While issuing directives on Thursday (February 1), Justice Manish Choudhury stressed on the illegality of such events held after January 25 citing violations of time constraints outlined in the standard operating procedures set by the Assam government. Specifically, authorities in Nagaon district were instructed to prevent a scheduled buffalo fight this weekend based on evidence presented by PETA India.
The court’s interim order mandated strict adherence to the state government’s SOP, pending further deliberation on PETA India’s plea challenging the constitutionality of permitting such events. Additionally, the state is required to submit an action-taken report by February 6.
The petition by the animal rights organisation highlighted multiple infringements of central laws during these events, including instances of severe cruelty inflicted on buffaloes. Investigation has revealed distressing practices such as physical abuse to incite fights, including slapping, pushing and jabbing the animals with sticks. Buffaloes sustained bloody injuries during the confrontations, enduring further agony from being dragged by ropes threaded through their nostrils.
PETA India said buffalo fights violate not only central laws but also core Indian values of compassion and non-violence. The organisation underscored the inherent cruelty of such spectacles and called for their prohibition to safeguard both animal welfare and human rights advancements.
Buffalo fights and bulbul fights have been an integral part of Assamese traditions. Earlier, every year during Magh Bihu, these fights would be organised but were later stopped for several years. This year, in a cabinet meeting before Magh Bihu, the state decided to resume it by introducing SOPs to be followed.
Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his family along with other ministers like Pijush Hazarika had also celebrated the return of buffalo fights in Ahatguri after nine years. Sarma had previously said: “I recently had the opportunity to witness the moh-juj after a nine-year hiatus in Ahatguri, as part of ongoing efforts to revive and preserve Assam’s timeless Bihu traditions. Introduced by Ahom king Rudra Singha, the buffalo fight alongside elephant and bulbul fights, has remained an integral aspect of the Assamese community.”