With no intentions to downplay the brutal act, preliminary Forest department inquiry reports that the death of the pregnant elephant in Kerala was not because the animal was “fed” firecracker-stuffed pineapple nor did the incident take place in Malappuram as falsely claimed by BJP MP and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi. The reports gave a new narrative to the alleged hate speech propagated by Gandhi to demean Malappuram when the incident actually took place in Palakkad. Also Read - COVID-19 Aftermath: Haryana Govt Freezes Dearness Allowance at Current Rate Till July 2021 Due to Financial Crisis
In an interview with International Business Times, an Indian Forest Service Officer shared, “No one would have fed the pineapple to the elephant. The animal must have found it lying somewhere and must have consumed it herself not knowing what lies ahead for her” while stating that pineapples filled with firecrackers are used as a snare to catch wild boars that destroy the crops. Also Read - Karnataka Coronavirus Cases Today: Days After CM BSY's Denial, Minister Confirms Community Transmission of COVID-19 in State
“Some people actually do such insane things as they consider wild animals as a threat to their property and life. Such incidents do happen at places where wild animals create problems for human beings,” the officer suggested in case of a second possibility. Also Read - Meet 'Bob-Cut' Sengamalam, An Elephant in Tamil Nadu Who's Going Viral Because of Her Unique Hairstyle
Nirmal, a local from Palakkad revealed, “I live in Palakkad where the incident took place, and here, especially in hill areas, electric fences and fruits loaded with crackers are common to prevent pigs entering agricultural areas. (It is cruel obviously).”
KK Sunil Kumar, Mannarkkad Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), told The News Minute, “We are suspecting that the elephant fell prey to the explosive snare used to fend off wild boars. But there is no evidence now to suggest that it was intentionally fed such an explosive.”
Originally belonging to Silent Valley National Park (SVNP) in Palakkad, the elephant died at Velliyar River in Malappuram, with its trunk in the water. The incident came to light after a section forest officer in Mannarkkad in Palakkad district, wrote a heartfelt note on Facebook on May 30, which quickly went viral. The officer, Mohan Krishnan and his team had attempted to rescue the 15-year-old elephant which was two month’s pregnant and was found standing in the middle of Velliyar river with its head down and it’s trunk in the water.
The team with its two captive elephants was charged at by the pregnant elephant when they approached it to bring it to safety but otherwise, it remained passive without hurting anybody. This happened on May 25 and reportedly the elephant stood in that spot for almost 48 hours before succumbing to the deep internal injuries in its lower jaw, on the evening of May 27.
“Due to the cracker explosion, there were terrible injuries to it’s upper and lower jaws. The area was filled with maggots. Because of the injuries, it could not eat or drink anything for weeks. It was very weak” said assistant forest veterinary officer Dr David Abraham while speaking to the Indian Express. He added that the fruit couldn’t be identified as well and media reports of the elephant consuming a pineapple were not confirmed. However, he said that the nature of the substance consumed was most probably a fruit in which the cracker was stuffed.
U Ashique Ali, the Mannarkkad forest range officer leading the combing operations, told The New Indian Express, “This particular area does not have a precedent of putting firecrackers inside pineapples or fruits. It was either put inside a pineapple or the firecracker must have been made in the shape of a pineapple. We are yet to confirm the modus operandi.”
With so many changes coming to light, BJP MP and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi has been called out for gaslighting communal hatred. that Malappuram, a district with a majority of Muslims, is India’s most violent district after which several of BJP Twitter handles shared the demography data and evidently spread Islamophobia under the tweet of Maneka.
Speaking to ANI, Gandhi had alleged, “It’s murder. Malappuram is famous for such incidents, it’s India’s most violent district. For instance, they throw poison on roads so that 300-400 birds and dogs die at one time. Kerala Government has not taken any action in Malappuram.”
Taking to their respective handles on social media, the netizens called out Gandhi for hate speech and false claims. While one user wrote, “Did someone intentionally fed elephant with crackers? No, fruits stuffed with crackers r kept by farmers to keep the wild boars away from farmlands. Elephant accidentally ate it. Did this happened in Malappuram? No, Palakkad. Destroy Sangh Propaganda! (sic)”, another tweeted, “The elephant incident in fact happened in Palakkad district. Maneka Gandhi has deliberately cited Malappuram, a Muslim majority district, and now it’s been changed into a communal issue (sic)” and yet another wrote, “The tragic and heart wrenching death of an Elephant in Kerala is now being turned into communal discourse. There is no low which is too low for Sanghis (sic).”
Check out Twitter’s reaction on the news here:
Irrespective of whether the fruit with crackers was meant for elephants or boars, the act is highly brutal considering any animal is vulnerable to it yet irresponsible comments by politicians only gaslights the sensitive communal cords in the country!