The death of a pregnant elephant has sparked nationwide outrage with many in utter disbelief over the nature of the crime. On May 27, the elephant was found dead in the Velliyar River. Her jaw was broken. The details that followed were gruesome. She ate a pineapple that was fed by a few locals. The fruit was laden with crackers and she chomped on it. The crackers exploded in her mouth, damaging her tongue and destroying her jaw. The forest personnel made efforts to bring it to the river bank using two other trained elephants. But, they failed. And, she died with her little one inside her womb.
Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has promised strict action against the offenders. "The forest department is probing the case and the culprits won't be spared," he said today. Vijayan also said that he was "saddened by the fact some used this tragedy to unleash a hate campaign."
"Lies built upon inaccurate descriptions and half-truths were employed to obliterate the truth. Some even tried to import bigotry into the narrative. Wrong priorities. Kerala is a society that respects the outrage against injustice. If there is any silver lining in this, it is that we now know that we can make our voices heard against injustice. Let us be that people who fight injustice in all its forms; every time, everywhere."
KERALA ELEPHANT MURDER: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
The post-mortem report found that the immediate cause of the death of the elephant was due to drowning, followed by inhalation of water led to lung failure. "The major and incapacitating wounds and injuries in oral cavity caused localised sepsis and have most likely occurred following an explosive blast in the mouth. This has resulted in excruciating pain and distress in the region and prevented the animal from taking food and water for nearly two weeks. Severe debility and weakness in turn resulted in the final collapse in water that led to drowning," the report mentioned.
On June 3, an FIR was lodged against unidentified people under relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act. Two people have been taken into custody.
The Forest Department has said that a "significant headway" has been made in the investigation into the gory death of the elephant. A Special Investigation Team set up for probing the death of the elephant is questioning several suspects. The forest department assured that it would leave no stone unturned to ensure maximum punishment to the culprits. However, the forest department also said there was no conclusive evidence that injury to the animal's lower jaw was caused by pineapple stuffed with cracker but this might be a possibility."
Meanwhile, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said it is not in Indian culture to feed crackers and kill. "Central government has taken a very serious note of the killing of an elephant in Mallapuram, Kerala. We will not leave any stone unturned to investigate properly and nab the culprits to book. This is not an Indian culture to feed firecrackers and kill."
BJP leader and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi said: "Mallapuram is known for its intense criminal activity especially with regards to animals. No action has ever been taken against a single poacher or wildlife killer so they keep doing it." She said about 600 elephants die each year in Kerala, and these elephants do not even belong to the state but are brought from Assam, Bihar, and Odisha.
Congress leader Ahmed Patel said: "It is sad that the climate in our country has become so bitter that even in the tragic death of an elephant, some are trying to misrepresent the facts to twist into an issue of one community Vs the other?"
Industrialist Ratan Tata compared the killing of the elephant to a "meditated murder", and sought justice for the animal. "I am grieved and shocked to know that a group of people caused the death of an innocent, passive, pregnant elephant by feeding the elephant with a pineapple filled with firecrackers. Such criminal acts against innocent animals are no different than acts of meditated murder against other humans. Justice needs to prevail."