Outrage after pregnant elephant dies eating 'firecracker fruit'

People pull the pregnant elephant's body out of water in Kerala's Palakkad district in this May 27

People pull the pregnant elephant's body out of water in Kerala's Palakkad district in this May 27

The death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala after she ate a pineapple filled with firecrackers has prompted a wave of national outrage across India - while also being co-opted into a sectarian "hate campaign".

The elephant's death turned into a political controversy after right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers made factually incorrect remarks, while their supporters tried to blame Muslims for the incident on social media. Finally, on the evening of May 27, the elephant collapsed in the river and died.

He also posted the photos of the elephant standing in the river water. "But this was not done intentionally to kill a pregnant elephant", he told The Quint.

The pregnant elephant had died in the slushy water of the river Velliyar on May 25.

The pregnant elephant that died in Kerala. Thiruvazhamkunnu Forest Station, Deputy Range Officer, M Sasikumar also confirmed the arrest. "That's why we chose to give out a message of secularism on the World Environment Day", Thangal told reporters.

M Ummer, a former ward member of the Kottopadam panchayat, said the locals and farmers in the region are frequently troubled by wild animals who raid their crops. "Strict action will be taken so that a similar incident is not repeated".

Although there were seven complaints against her for the same reason, only one FIR was filed for all of them. Its immediate cause of death was drowning and lung failure. Many critics imputed that people in Muslim-majority Malappuram are less sensitive to animals. "@RahulGandhi is not MP from there", Mr Tharoor tweeted. After it reached an adjoining village, it allegedly bit into a fruit stuffed with firecrackers - a snare usually used by locals against wild boars - and suffered grievous injuries to its upper and lower jaws, and the tongue. She had not eaten anything since the substance exploded in her mouth.

The autopsy report said she drowned.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, promising action, condemned what he called a targeted campaign against Kerala and Malappuram. "In spite of having clarified that the incident took place in Palakkad and not in Malappuram as being propagated, people including central ministers are still not willing to correct the mistake. They are deliberately spreading communally motivated false information on the district", he said. "This is not acceptable and any efforts to spread hatred using this incident will not be tolerated", he said. Lies built upon inaccurate descriptions and half-truths were employed to obliterate the truth.

The communal narrative was condemned by celebrities like actor Parvathy Thiruvothu. "Wrong priorities", Mr Vijayan wrote.

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