KERALA: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarai Vijayan on Thursday said that three suspects have been identified in investigation into the recent gory death of a pregnant wild elephant in a suspected man-animal conflict in a forest area in Palakkad district.
Amid the nationwide anger and outrage over the brutal killing of the elephant, Vijayan assured people that their concerns on the matter will be addressed and said, “Justice will prevail”.
“In a tragic incident in Palakkad dist, a pregnant elephant has lost its life. Many of you have reached out to us. We want to assure you that your concerns will not go in vain. Justice will prevail,” he said in a series of tweets.
“An investigation is underway, focusing on three suspects. The police and forest departments will jointly investigate the incident. The district police chief and the district forest officer visited the site today. We will do everything possible to bring the culprits to justice,” Vijayan added.
He also launched an attack on the alleged “hate campaign” in wake of the state government facing severe criticism for the elephant’s killing. “Having said that, we are saddened by the fact some have used this tragedy to unleash a hate campaign. Lies built upon inaccurate descriptions and half truths were employed to obliterate the truth. Some even tried to import bigotry into the narrative. Wrong priorities,” he wrote.
Earlier today, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had also tweeted that the central government would investigate the tragedy. “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 (sic),” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Kerala forest department said that a significant headway has been made in the investigation. It said that a special investigation team set up for the probe is questioning several suspects.
The forest department also said it would leave no stone unturned to ensure maximum punishment to the culprits. However, it also said there was no conclusive evidence that injury to the animal’s lower jaw was caused by pineapple stuffed with cracker and this might be a possibility.
The elephant had consumed a pineapple filled with powerful fire crackers which exploded in the animal’s mouth in the Silent Valley Forest and it died about a week later on May 27.
The elephant died at Velliyar River on May 27 after efforts by forest personnel to bring it to the river bank
using two other trained elephants failed.
“Her jaw was broken and she was unable to eat after she chewed the pineapple and it exploded in her mouth,” a senior forest official had said earlier. The post-mortem revealed that the pachyderm was pregnant.
Voicing concern over the incident, Bollywood celebrities including Anushka Sharma, Shraddha Kapoor, Randeep Hooda demanded strict action against animal cruelty.
The pachyderm’s tragic end in the Silent Valley forest came to light after Mohan Krishnan, a forest officer, posted an emotional note on his Facebook page, narrating it.
“When we saw her she was standing in the river, with her head dipped in the water. She had a sixth sense that she was going to die. She took the Jalasamadhi in the river in a standing position,” Krishnan, who was deputed to bring the elephant back to the shore, wrote.
He had also posted the photos of the elephant standing in the river water.