Whenever a tragedy takes place, humans are quite quick to point the finger of blame on whoever they deem responsible even despite the lack of evidence. Thus, the incident concerning the murder of a pregnant elephant in India is no different. Moreover, while people do have every right to be outraged by this inhumane act, the incident shouldn’t start a “hate campaign” against the Muslim sector.
Circumstances regarding the death of the elephant
The elephant died while standing in the middle of a river in the southern state of Kerala, allegedly at the age of 15. She suffered for four days after she was found injured and before passing away. Moreover, reports indicate that she was almost one month pregnant at the time.
The India Today network stated that the mouth injury was caused by explosives. These exclusives ended up fracturing the bones and causing a lot of damage to her mouth. Thus, the poor elephant couldn’t eat, became weak. Then she died.
She was found initially injured on May 23. However, when forest officers and a veterinarian tried to immobilize her for treatment, the elephant ran away. She was then found again two days later while standing in the river. Though ultimately she didn’t receive any treatments because the officers couldn’t use a tranquilizer while she is in the water.
Officers tried to remove her from the water with the help of two other elephants but with no success. Thus, they couldn’t save her.
Furthermore, Kerala’s chief wildlife warden, Surendra Kumar, stated that local villagers sometimes leave pineapples and other sweet fruits filled with firecrackers around their fields as means of warding off wild boars and other wild animals. Such fruits are suspected to be the main reason behind the explosion.
Triggered hate on social media
With everyone outraged by the current situation, people started pointing the finger of blame on a whole religious sector, instead of blaming the incident on the culprits themselves. Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) parliamentarian Maneka Gandhi, who is also an animal rights activist, stated that the incident took place in the Malappuram district. A district where 70 percent of the population is Muslim. Moreover, she told the ANI news agency on Wednesday that “Malappuram is famous for such incidents, it’s India’s most violent district,” and that “they throw poison on roads so that 300-400 birds and dogs die at one time” without stating who she meant by “they”.
Thus, her statement ignited a fire filled with anger towards the Muslim community on social media where hundreds of posts suggested that the culprit is a Muslim.
However, journalists and some actors from the region disclaimed the BJP leader’s statement, indicating that the incident happened in Palakkad and not Malappuram. Also, Chief Minister Vijayan denied the accusation and urged against importing bigotry into the narrative of the elephant’s death.
Whether the culprit is Muslim, Hindu, Christian, or belongs to any other religious sector, they should be held accountable. Moreover, if the Malappuram district citizens are truly committing any crimes against animal rights, they should also face consequences. However, holding an entire religion accountable for the actions of a few is just wrong.
On the other hand, using a tragedy as fuel to ignite hatred and further an agenda is simply wrong.
Many clinched on this opportunity to promote hatred towards the Muslim community in India instead of hating on animal abusers. Thus, twisting a tale that could have helped in raising awareness about human’s inflected cruelty on helpless animals. Instead, the incident with the help of social media was used as a weapon against a religious sector.
The Indian Express reported that one arrest was carried out after days of investigation. The minister stated that the alleged culprit is a farmer who works in areas around Ambalappar. Moreover, collaborative efforts are underway to nab the remaining culprits.
Whenever a tragedy takes place, we can either learn from it or we are bound to repeat the same mistake. The death of the pregnant elephant was truly tragic. however, using such tragedy to invoke hatred is simply an easy way to create another one. Thus, the cycle of human-made tragedies will never end. After the arrest of the culprits, people should judge them by their actions and not their religion.
Al Jazeera. “Pregnant Elephant’s Death in India Triggers ‘Hate Campaign’.” India News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 4 June 2020, www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/pregnant-elephant-death-india-triggers-hate-campaign-200604101245365.html.
Gan, Nectar. “Elephant Dies after Suspected Firecrackers Hidden in Fruit Exploded in Her Mouth.” CNN, Cable News Network, 4 June 2020, edition.cnn.com/2020/06/04/asia/india-elephant-death-intl-hnk-scli/index.html.
Joseph, Jeff. “A Pregnant Dead Elephant Becomes A Symbol Of Anti-Muslim Hate.” The Lede, www.thelede.in/politicking/2020/06/04/a-pregnant-dead-elephant-becomes-a-symbol-of-anti-Muslim-hate.
“One Arrested for Alleged Role in Pregnant Elephant’s Death in Kerala.” The Indian Express, 5 June 2020, indianexpress.com/article/india/kerala-pregnant-elephant-death-arrest-6443683/.