Gruesome camel fights still a favourite pastime

Published: February 17, 2019


MULTAN  : Camel fighting is a gruesome pastime in South Punjab. Before the event, organisers beat loud drums and make special announcements, inviting potential participants to register themselves for the dangal.

Despite being illegal, the dangal is an event organised every five years in various districts in the southern part of the province such as Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan, Layyah, Rajanpur, Bahawalpur, Jalalpur Pirwala and Multan. The more fights a camel has won, the more amount of money he is paid for participating in the dangal. The monetary value of a camel is directly proportional to the number of fights it has won.

Fights are a truly vicious spectacle of the latent strength of a camel. The two animals facing off attack the other’s neck and front legs; their necks are awkwardly knotted together, the sounds of heavy breathing permeating the air. When the winner is announced, the winning side jumps into the ring and encircles the camel, showering it with money.
Camel fighting originated in Turkey before trickling its way down to the Indian subcontinent. Presently, the event is organised in many parts of South Asia.

Participating camels are pampered creatures that are prepped and trained for years. One camel owner, wishing to remain anonymous, revealed that the camels are fed a unique diet which includes desi ghee, organic eggs, almonds, butter, high-quality season fodder and fresh milk.

The Punjab government has banned camel fights but such events are still organised. Ironically, the dangal held in Muzaffargarh district a week ago was organised by a former member of the Punjab Assembly Sardar Muhammad Jatoi. The fight was held in Lundi Pitafi area in Jatoi tehsil with great pomp and fanfare.

Two camels named Jangi and Badal faced off in the grand fight. A local resident and a close aide of the organisers wishing to remain anonymous told The Express Tribune that Badal’s owner was paid Rs1 million for making the camel participate in a fight that lasted a mere 20 minutes.

On the other hand, the winner Jangi was showered with money when the judges announced the results of the fight. A heavy contingent of police was also present to provide security at the event. Attendees were charged Rs500 for seeing the camel fight while another Rs50 was charged for parking. Despite the ban, a large number of gamblers bet thousands on the results of the fight.

Police official Nasir Abbasi told the Express Tribune that strict action will be taken against the organisers after investigations are completed.

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