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A mouthful of hate

A pregnant elephant in Kerala ventured out of Palakkad’s Silent Valley into a nearby village and consumed a pineapple laden with firecrackers. Hate exploded miles away in Delhi.
This May 27, 2020 photo show elephants standing by a 15-year-old pregnant wild elephant who died after suffering injuries, in Velliyar River, Palakkad district of Kerala.

Upala Sen   |   Published 06.06.20, 08:59 PM

A pregnant elephant in Kerala ventured out of Palakkad’s Silent Valley into a nearby village and consumed a pineapple laden with firecrackers --- some reports claim it was a coconut. A mouthful of hate exploded miles away in Delhi. The specifics of what BJP MP Maneka Gandhi said are not worth repeating. Suffice to say that after days of writhing in pain, Soumya the elephant died, but politicians continued to bicker over geography and demography and would have the rest of India and the world believe that empathy and compassion are in such limited supply that they cannot extend to man and beast at the same time.



The elephant’s tongue and mouth would have been on fire, for she went up to the Velliyur River and stood with her trunk in water. Her jaw must have been blown away speculated those in the know, making it impossible for her to eat for the length of time she survived. What the humans chewed on, however, were the minutiae --- did Soumya accidentally eat the cracker or was it fed it --- after all blame had to be apportioned and attached. The hidden crackers were meant to chase away wild boars, clarified some, as if to say it is okay to injure them thus. The crackers were jaggery-coated, pointed out others, and though it is a bitter reality animal-loving legislators showed little interest in such nitty gritty.

Not in Indian culture

The explosion and death elicited blame, more blame, FIRs to counter the blame. Then came the hackers, followed by the who’s who, avenging spirits all. The spins continued and fake news of other holier and equally injured animals was shared many times over. Hate sputtered and social media crackled. The air swirled with words like “nab”, “punish”, “arrest”, and the Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar insisted that it is not in Indian culture to feed firecrackers and kill. The forest officer Mohan Krishnan, who was part of the Rapid Response Team that rescued the elephant, wrote in a social media post how the injured Soumya didn't harm a single human being even when she ran in searing pain down the streets of the village. He wrote, “She didn’t crush a single home.”

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