The tragic death of a majestic elephant in Kerala has shaken the conscience of the nation. Ever since news first broke of the gory development in “God’s Own Country”, people have been vociferously demanding justice for the pregnant elephant, who is accorded a godly status in Indian culture, more so in Kerala.
Let us put this out as a disclaimer that the details of the incident are shady at best, and completely believing the Kerala government’s narrative over the incident would not be wise. It was first reported that the elephant was fed a pineapple filled with powerful firecrackers in the Mallapuram district. “Her jaw was broken and she was unable to eat after she chewed the pineapple and it exploded in her mouth. It is certain that she was offered the pineapple filled with crackers to eliminate her,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden Surendrakumar.
However, within 24 hours, for reasons best known to the Communist government of Kerala, the narrative was changed completely. While it was first being reported that the inhuman killing of the elephant occurred in Mallapuram, it is now said that the incident occurred in Palakkad district.
While the Chief Wildlife Warden was very certain about a firecracker induced death, the Forest Department had another angle to the story. “There’s no conclusive evidence that injury to lower jaw was caused by pineapple stuffed with cracker,” it said in a tweet. Curiously though, while the Forest Department on one hand claims that the elephant was killed due to a human-animal conflict, in the subsequent tweet, it tries to downplay the whole incident.
It must also be mentioned that the narrative of the elephant mistakenly consuming the firecracker laden pineapple, which was meant instead for a wild boar, does not discount the severity of the crime committed against Kerala’s State animal. There are just too many spins in the story to ignore, and the best for our readers would be, for now, to look at all narratives surrounding the death of the elephant with a barrel of salt. My guess is that goalposts are being shifted by the State to deviate attention from the ground reality, and also quell angers of the public. Brazen attempts at humanizing the culprits, by spinning baseless theories of the pineapple being an anti-wild boar tool used by many in the state to save their crops, are being well noted.
While nothing can be ruled out as of this moment, for us to believe that a devout Hindu must have committed this ghastly crime is not easy. Given the reverence with which elephants are treated in Kerala, it is highly unlikely that someone who worships the species would go to the extent of killing it in such a brutal fashion.
Elephants are accorded a godly status by Hindus all over India, and their stature in Kerala is all the more important. “Sons of Sahya” as they are called, the majestic species is employed in temples across Kerala, and Hindus share a distinct cultural, as well as emotional bond with the giants. It is unbelievable to think that those who worship elephants would go to the extent of killing them with such ruthlessness.
According to media reports, one person by the name P. Wilson was arrested and another detained by the joint investigation teams of the police and forest departments. The authorities of Kerala must come clean on the matter immediately.
This is not the first time Kerala has been in the news for killing animals. In 2016, hundreds of stray dogs were killed in the state, according to reports. Kerala prides itself on being the most literate state in the country and the Communist government projects Kerala as a model state when it comes to handling situations.
Is 100% literacy a measure of how humane a section of society is? Absolutely not. Being able to write one’s name on a piece of paper is no parameter of judging a people. The excruciating pain which the elephant must have gone through is something which none of us can imagine. However, what we can definitely do is ask questions of those who are working overtime to cover up and discount the entire incident. For a God-like creature to be killed with such impunity in God’s Own Country is definitely a shame of the highest order.