The State Forest Department has reportedly picked up three persons for interrogation in connection with the death of a pregnant elephant at Mannarkad even as online campaigns and tweets by celebrities and politicians have added new dimensions to the incident.
The location of the incident, wrongly reported as Malappuram by some, has set the twitter on fire besides kicking off social media rage. Condemning the incident, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar and former Union Minister Maneka Gandhi tweeted that the incident took place in Malappuram.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took a dig at those who used the “tragedy to unleash a hate campaign.” Condemning the “wrong priorities” of some quarters, Mr. Vijayan said “lies built upon inaccurate descriptions and half-truths were employed to obliterate the truth. Some even tried to import bigotry into the narrative.” He promised that justice would prevail.
The Forest Department clarified that the crime took place in Palakkad. “The place where the unfortunate incident took place falls in Palakkad district,” said the official twitter handle of the department. There was no conclusive evidence that injury to the lower jaw of the animal was caused by pineapple stuffed with cracker. However, this may be a possibility, it said.
Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala accused Ms. Gandhi of having “given a space for airing hate speeches abusing a district and all its people.”
Surendrakumar, Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala, said the campaign that the animal was fed with explosives-laden fruit was baseless and wrong. It was a wild elephant and no one could go near it or feed it. It might have stumbled upon the fruit, kept in some farmland. Rewards would be offered to those who give solid clues into the incidents. Statewide combing operations would be held to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, Mr. Surendrakumar said.
In his tweet, Ratan Tata said he was “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.” Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli also shared his anguish in a tweet.
Teams of forest officials on Thursday perambulated the fringe areas of forests of the Silent Valley National Park, Nilambur South, North Mannarkad, Nenmara, and Palakkad as part of the preventive drive.
A probe into the crime was progressing and senior police officers are cooperating in it, said P.P. Pramod, Chief Conservator of Forest (Eastern Circle).
“I have already taken up the matter with State govt. expressing my anguish. Govt. of Kerala is taking adequate & strong actions & those responsible for this abominable act will be brought to justice,” official Twitter handle of Governor Arif Mohammed Khan said.
(With inputs from Thiruvananthapuram Bureau)