The brutal death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala has triggered a massive protest across the nation. Former Union Minister and BJP MP Maneka Gandhi spoke to The Daily Guardian and called it a murder. She also alleged that an elephant is killed every three days in Kerala. Excerpts:
Q. A pregnant elephant died of eating cracker-stuffed pineapple in Kerala. What action do you demand from the Kerala government over its abhorrent death?
A. I am sad for the country today because it is a murder. There are bomb factories running in Malappuram; the pregnant elephant was not “fed” with a “cracker-stuffed pineapple” since you need to burn a cracker to fire it. This was a professional bomb, which means in Kerala bomb factories are running. Today an elephant died because of it, tomorrow anyone can die in Delhi as well. The government needs to bust this bomb factory and the people making these bombs. Three months ago, the Kerala government gave nod to manufacture bombs to kill wild pigs. When these wild pigs smell the bombs, they do not come near them. These bombs are being fed to elephants.
An elephant is killed every three days in Kerala. The Kerala government is so insensitive that animals are dying every day. Around 600 elephants died last year and there was no natural death in the last 25 years. Kerala is also stealing elephants from all over the country and those who have died came from Assam, Bihar and Odisha jungles. They have already killed their own elephants long ago. Their insurance should be stopped immediately. For instance, I can own and keep an elephant in Kerala, get it insured for Rs 5 lakh and later kill the animal for insurance money which I bought for just Rs 50,000.
Q. How can the Kerala government be so insensitive towards animals?
A. On every front, the Kerala government is insensitive, be it human or animal. They are repeat offenders. Whether it is children being sold in orphanages in Malappuram or people being killed, look at the crime rate in this city. Nothing is being done. Communal conflict is highest here. Malappuram is famous for such incidents and is India’s most violent district. For instance, they throw poison on roads so that 300 to 400 birds and dogs die at one time. During Covid-19, they have spread poison everywhere to kill all dogs. Since the last 30 to 40 years in Kerala, nobody has been nabbed for killing an elephant. In the last seven years, 11,000 elephants have been killed. Currently in India, only 19,000 elephants are left among which 800 are males. How long elephant species will sustain in India, hardly five years, which is extremely painful and shocking.
Q. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is also an MP from Kerala. Do you think he should be vocal about this issue?
A. Yes, I think Rahul Gandhi should speak about this issue. When such incidents happen, he should come forward and talk to his government in Kerala that they should find the bomb factories and perpetrators. It creates quite a dangerous situation for elephants and other animals. They should stop these heinous crimes immediately and ban private ownership of elephants. If the Kerala government acts on these suggestions, then dying of elephants will stop immediately.
Q. What are your demands from your government in the Centre?
A. I am demanding the above-mentioned measures from the Central government as well. They should remove “vermin” word from their dictionary as no animal is vermin including blue bull, monkey and other animals as jungles are completely dependent on them. In Delhi, six elephants used to beg on the streets and survived on roots and stems of trees. It took me five years to get a nod from the Delhi government to send them to the rescue centre.
Q. Will you also move to the Supreme Court to take up this matter?
A. For the last five years, I am fighting the case in the Supreme Court and meanwhile, 11,000 elephants have been killed. The Supreme Court is extending the case by giving us further dates. The government and Centre should act on this at the earliest and the Supreme Court should listen to the case which it hasn’t for a single day.