“Every week an elephant dies of beating in Kerala. They should sack the Chief Wildlife Warden. They should arrest everyone they suspect in Malappuram because they are repeat offenders,” said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi on Wednesday, 3 June.
Gandhi condemned the Kerala government for not taking animal cruelty seriously and letting animal abuse happen so frequently in the state.
The death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala’s Palakkad district on 27 May, after she ate a fruit that was stuffed with explosives, allegedly left by some locals, has sent shockwaves across the country.
She shared a picture of the contact numbers of the forest officials, and urged people to call them and demand action.
Incident Took Place in Palakkad, Not Malappuram
The BJP leader shared a tweet about how Malappuram is known for its “intense criminal activity especially with regard to animals” and that “no action has ever been taken against a single poacher or wildlife killer so they keep doing it.”
However, the incident took place in Mannarkkad in Palakkad district and not in Malappuram. The district forest officer confirmed the same to The Quint.
K Raju, the Minister of Forests, Wildlife Protection, Animal Husbandry in the state, too, clarified and assured that strict action will be taken against the offenders.
“Strict action will be taken against culprits responsible for killing a pregnant elephant. I want to clarify that it happened in Palakkad, not in Malappuram. Regarding, the remark of Maneka Gandhi, I don't want to comment at this juncture,” he said.
‘Why Has Rahul Gandhi Not Taken Any Action?’
Gandhi alleged that every week an elephant dies of beating in Kerala, and that the Chief Wildlife Warden must to be sacked immediately.
“Can you imagine your mouth being exploded by a bomb while having a child inside?”Maneka Gandhi, BJP MP and Animal Rights Activist
The wild elephant had left the forest and was wandering in the nearby village in search of food. The explosion injured its tongue and mouth and the elephant walked around the village, in searing pain and hunger, without causing any harm.
“She trusted everyone. When the pineapple she ate exploded, she must have been shocked to not think about herself, but about the child she was going to give birth to in 18 to 20 months,” said Mohan Krishnan, a forest officer on his Facebook page.
Gandhi even slammed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, the MP from Kerala’s Wayanad district, for not taking any action so far.
“The forest secretary should be removed. If the minister had any sense, he should’ve resigned. He is from that area, why has he not taken any action? Rahul Gandhi is from that area. Why has he not taken any action?”Maneka Gandhi, BJP MP and Animal Rights Activist
However, the incident took place in Palakkad, and not Wayanad.
‘Over 600 Elephants Killed in Kerala Every Year’
She alleged that the district is known for numerous animal killings and has a history of using poison to kill birds and dogs.
“Seems like the Kerala state government is afraid of Malappuram. The administration there is so weak. What is the Kerala government doing? Every year, over 600 elephants are being killed only in Kerala, which means every third day, an elephant dies.” she told news agency ANI. However experts argued that these figures were not factually correct.
She argued how temples kill the elephants by beating them. “They take the elephants on a parade in the heat and if the elephant moves around because it is agitated, they hit the animal badly. Many get elephants, take an insurance, then injure the elephant that it gets gangrene and when it dies they can claim the insurance money,” she alleged.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has assured strict action against those who are responsible for the killing. “Forest department is probing the case and the culprits will be brought to book,” he said.
However, Gandhi said that this is a regular phenomenon in the state and the administration has been turning a blind eye to it.
“Kerala is famous for one thing: How much ever you abuse (an animal), the Kerala government won’t say a thing.”Maneka Gandhi, BJP MP and Animal Rights Activist
Environment Ministry Demands Report
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has sought a report from Kerala on the death of the elephant.
“Environment Ministry has taken a serious note of the death of an elephant in Kerala. Has sought complete report on the incident. Stern action will be taken against the culprit(s)," he said.
“Killing of an elephant in Kerala is shocking, it is very cruel and not the Indian culture. This is absolutely unacceptable, we have already deputed our senior officers there. We will nab the culprits and punish them, he told ANI.
People from across the country expressed their outrage on social media and over 1,000 petitions have been filed on Change.org supported by over 10 lakh people in less than a day, demanding strict action against the offenders.
An FIR has been lodged against unidentified people under sections of the Wild Life Protection Act, said a Mannarkkad forest range officer.
The Kerala Forest department took to Twitter on Wednesday to state that Article 51-A (g) of the Indian Constitution dictates that it is the duty of every citizen to be compassionate to animals.