A pregnant wild elephant originally belonging to Silent Valley National Park (SVNP), Palakkad, met with a tragic death after she ate a pineapple packed with firecrackers inside meant to eradicate local boars, earlier this week.
In a gut-wrenching video that troubled animal lovers all over, the incident was brought to light by Mohan Krishnan, Section Forest Officer, Nilambur, on his Facebook page. The post has since become viral with more than 1,200 shares, and has continued to gain traction online.
Remaining calm through what must have been excruciating pain, the elephant retreated to a nearby river to help soothe her burned digestive tract, before succumbing to her injuries. Dr David Abraham, Assistant Forest Veterinary Officer, Thrissur, who did the postmortem, told The New Indian Express that on first observation itself it was clear that the elephant would not survive. The forest officials wanted to euthanize the elephant which was in severe agony. But unfortunately, the message from the top echelons of the forest department was to return it back to the SVNP.
Regrettably, the tragic incident was picked up by several politically motivated users on Twitter, and used as ammunition to rouse communal disharmony and attack the ruling government of Kerala – which happens to be one of the major anti-establishment cabinets in the country.
View this post on InstagramI am glad you are all talking about justice for the pregnant elephant who died after being fed fire cracker- stuffed fruit. It should be condemned. However, in the struggle for staying relevant and be in the news, we would also appreciate a little fact checking because, doling out opinions about everything that happens or doesn’t is dangerous, worst of all, giving it a religious angle. And also, where were you all when the country was in flames few months back.. during JNU and anti CAA protests. Noone even raised an eyebrow back then. Those very privileged Indians are now crying about racism in US, they were completely silent when religious fanatics killed minorities in India in the name of religion and race.
Come to think of it, our country witnessed racism like never before in the last few months and everyone was tightlipped. Those very privileged Indians are now crying about racism in US, they were completely silent when religious fanatics killed minorities in India in the name of religion and race.
Selective solidarity does not matter, shut up!
Get up stand up
Stand up for your right…. ‘Bob Marley’
#getup #standup #standupforyourright
In the above post by prominent fashion photographer Shani Shaki, the visual artist highlighted how interest groups have picked up the elephant issue and used it as a way to target minorities in the state.
It began with several posts insinuating that the elephant was killed in Muslim majority district Malappuram, even though the incident happened in the Mannarkkad division of Palakkad district, which is nearly 100 kilometres away. Even Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar either fell for or supported this false narrative – while simultaneously having helped pass environmentally-unfriendly legislation during his term with the BJP government.
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 culprit(s). This is not an Indian culture to feed fire crackers and kill.@moefcc @PIB_India @PIBHindi
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) June 4, 2020
Similarly, activist and BJP MP Maneka Gandhi followed suit, naming the wrong district as ‘India’s most violent’ district.
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 & dogs die at one time: Maneka Gandhi,BJP MP&animal rights activist on elephant’s death after being fed cracker-stuffed pineapple pic.twitter.com/OtLHsuiuAq
— ANI (@ANI) June 3, 2020
Soon after these statements, K. Sunil Kumar, Divisional Forest Office, Mannarkkad confirmed that the incident had nothing to do with the area under question. “The elephant was found dead in a forest area in the Mannarkkad division of Palakkad district. Such incidents have happened in the past but we have taken all steps to prevent them,” he said to The Quint.
Meanwhile, dozens of communally charged posts flew up on social media.
Between left and right, Hindu and Muslim humanity is nowhere to be seen. Can’t believe young Indians have lost the capacity to think beyond divisive propaganda. An Elephant lost her life due to some monster and the lady is busy peddling Hindu-Muslim theory.#India #ElephantDeath pic.twitter.com/1qC7oNbxYz
— Durgesh (@DurgeshAgrahari) June 3, 2020
Malayalam film actress Parvathy Thiruvothu also put a foot in the door of these hatemongering tweets, exposing how sentiment towards animals was redirected towards cementing political goals.
Just how you jump at an opportunity to make this an anti-Muslim, hate campaign is astonishing. Focus on the problem. ANIMALS ARE IN DANGER BECAUSE OF CRUEL EXPLOSIVE SNARES. Talk about the actual issue here!
— Parvathy Thiruvothu (@parvatweets) June 3, 2020
Others explained how the negative posts were part of a ‘defamation’ strategy against the state of Kerala.
The IT cell instruction is to hype any negative news from Kerala by adding keywords, communist and leftist, to whatever crap they tweet. No understanding or fact checking is done. It is just an online defamation campaign against Kerala.
— Raj (@trilobite_1970) June 4, 2020
Despite attempts to pull down the state, Kerala has been – not just across education metrics, but also as a forerunner in executing COVID-19 strategies during the worldwide pandemic.
Note: MensXP has reached out to Shani Shaki for comment and are awaiting a response.
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Photo: © Reuters (Main Image)