Parading of a wounded elephant in the annual inter-state Navaratri idol procession which began from Thakkale in Kerala-Tamil Nadu border on Sunday, has triggered a controversy with animal rights campaigners holding that it was an act of cruelty to the animal.
They said it was a torture to make walk Vallabhan, an elephant of Malayinkeezhu Sree Krishnaswami Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, over 70 kilometres with wounds all over its body as part of the procession.
The elephant had the history of running amok and killing one of its mahouts some time ago and parading such a jumbo was violation of rules, V K Venkatachalam, Secretary of Heritage Task Force, an animal rights group, said.
The wounds on its body are clearly visible. Some of them are covered by using black cloth for avoiding any intervention from authorities, he said.
After the media reported on the plight of the jumbo, Kerala State Forest Department personnel stopped the elephant at Parasala yesterday. It is now kept at a temple there, he said.
Travancore Devaswom Board and the festival organisers in Kerala and Tamil Nadu are equally responsible for the cruelty. So a case should be registered against them, he said.
The Heritage Task Force sent a letter in this regard to the Inspector General of Union Ministry of Environment and Forest demanding action against those responsible for inflicting intentional cruelty towards the heritage animal.
It was the clear violation of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, the PCA Act 1960 and the Performing Animals (Registration) Rule 2001, he added.
However, the Kerala Forest Department officials said the mahout had all required documents to take the jumbo from Kerala to Tamil Nadu. It is true that the jumbo has wounds on some parts of the body. But, it is visible that they are healing. The elephant also has the required doctor’s fitness certificate and DFO’s permission, a senior forest officer said.
The 10 day-Navaratri festival begins with the bringing of the idols of Goddess Saraswathi from the Thevarakattu Saraswathi Amman Temple in Padmanabhapuram Palace in Thakkale, Lord Muruga from Veli Malai Murughan Temple and Munnuttinanka from Sthanumalayan Temple at Suchindrum to Kerala capital.
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