Police stops Tonga-race in Malerkotla for cruelty and betting

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Malerkotla, Feb 13 (UNI) The police stopped the traditional tonga-race here today after local social groups complained of ''betting'' and cruelty against animals as a mare had died recenly during the event.

However, when the police reached the site to stop the unauthorised sport, angry organisors began shouting and pelting the cops with stones, causing minor injuries to some.

Malerkotla DSP Gurpreet Singh told UNI that at least a dozen people were booked under section 353 IPC for manhandling the police and also under Cruelty Against Animals Act.

Cash amounting to about Rs 25,000 was also recovered from the organisers which apparenltly was the ''betting'' money.

The ''tonga-race'', though being organised for a long time here, caused a major public outcry and the drew ire of animal lovers here after a mare ''Billo'' began to bleed through her mouth and later died during the 45 km race to Khanna in December last.

This time, the race was cut short to 15 km to Bagrian village' The award money for the winner was Rs 50,000.

Ususally two horses or mares strapped with empty tongas were pushed into the race with many people, mostly ''cheering betters'' following on the motorbikes.

As the race route often included the highway or a major road, it also posed a traffic hazard, the DSP said.

UNI XC JN MMS1822

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