New Delhi: Backtracking on his earlier statement on the unfortunate death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala, saying it was not “part of Indian culture to feed crackers and kill”, the Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday said the elephant may have “accidentally consumed a cracker-stuffed fruit.”
“Primary investigations revealed, the elephant may have accidentally consumed in such fruit. Ministry is in constant touch with Kerala Govt & has sent them detailed advisory for immediate arrest of culprits & stringent action against any erring official that led to elephant's death," Javadekar’s Ministry said in its official Twitter handle.
It also tweeted that the Minster of State for Environment Babul Supriyo has requested people not to believe in social media “rumours”.
On Monday, after primary investigations by the Environment Ministry, Javadekar’s Ministry noted that many a times locals resort to an illegal act of planting explosive-filled fruits to repel wild boars from entering plantation farms, a PTI report said.
The tweets followed a review meeting held on Sunday under the chairmanship of Sanjay Kumar, Director General of Forests and Special Secretary in the ministry, and was attended by an official from National Tiger Conservation Authority, Inspector General of Wildlife, ministry of environment, additional director of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and scientists from Elephant Cell, an official told PTI.
Earlier, Javadekar’s remark, along with his former Cabinet colleague Maneka Gandhi’s statement, both citing the wrong district – Malappuram- and the latter even trying to give a communal tinge to the incident, had created quite a controversy. Gandhi had even referred to the minority-dominated district as “most violent”, basing her comments on a wrong media report. The incident had taken place in Palakkad district.
A series of tweets by both these BJP leaders had been flayed by Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala and others for spreading “hate” and “importing bigotry” into Kerala.
The 15-year-old elephant consumed a pineapple filled with powerful fire crackers which exploded in its mouth in the Silent Valley forest. It died in the Velliyar River a week later on May 27.
Incidentally, the Kerala chief minister had at that time also said that a probe had been ordered and strict action would be taken against those responsible, blaming the unfortunate incident on the ongoing man-animal conflict seen across the country.
Recently, in Himachal Pradesh, a pregnant cow’s mouth was blown up as she, too, is reported to have accidentally eaten a snare set up by farmers to scare away wild boars and monkeys.
The statement by Gandhi and Javadekar had also created a social media storm, with many people reacting to the former’s badmouthing of an entire district (wrong one) in Kerala, as also expressing outrage at the heart-wrenching manner in which the elephant died. At least 1,000 online petitions were floated in less than a day, according to an Indian Express report.