Following the recent horrendous death of a pregnant elephant in the Palakkad district in the state of Kerala, there has been an outpouring of grief as well as it’s a fair share of hatred on social media.
Many partisans have taken to attacking the Kerala government and citizens themselves of being cruel and ignorant.
Former Union Minister and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi even went as far as to term Malappuram ‘the most violent district in the country.’ “Every week an elephant dies of beating in Kerala. They should sack the Chief Wildlife Warden. They should arrest everyone they suspect in Malappuram because they are repeat offenders,” Maneka alleged in a tweet.
Although, the incident took place in Mannarkkad in Palakkad district and not Malappuram. The provocative comments by Gandhi led to social media users hurling hateful comments against a particular community.
Condemning the comments, South Indian actress, Parvathy Thiruvothu tweeted “just how you jump an opportunity to make this Anti- Muslim, hate campaign is astonishing.”
Later, Gandhi’s animal rights NGO, People for Animals (PFA) was hacked and a message posted on it said: “Maneka Gandhi dragged the sad death of pregnant elephant for dirty politics.”
Maneka Gandhi didn’t stop here. She went on to claim that more than 600 elephants die in Kerala every year. Debunking this claim and going through concerned ministers and officials reports and speeches of the past months, it became evident that the claim by Maneka is baseless.
GIn February 2019, Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change himself, in response to a question raised in Lok Sabha, provided data from 2015 up to December 31, 2019, which shows that total of 373 elephants in total has died across India.
Later, in February 2020, her party colleague, Babul Supriyo, claimed that a total of 269 elephants had died due to electrocution, 71 due to train accidents, 61 due to poaching, and 26 due to poisoning. This data is for the same time period, ie, 2015-19.
Unless she can prove both the ministers wrong, it doesn’t add up that only 373 elephants died across whole India in the last four years while as per her, 600 in Kerala alone. Looking at the state-wise data, Kerala registered 39 elephant deaths over the same years.
Later on, an FIR was filed against Maneka Gandhi by a person called Latheef for inciting communal hate. Malappuram district Police chief Abdul Karim IPS said that an FIR has been registered under section 153 of the Indian Penal Code (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause a riot.
SOURCES: Indian Express