The tragic death of a pregnant wild elephant in Kerala’s Silent Valley Forest has taken a communal turn after a former Union minister and right-wing trolls used the incident to stoke Islamophobia.
While the elephant died on May 27, after days of excruciating pain, the incident only gained attention this week after a forest official’s emotional Facebook post went viral.
Initially, news reports indicated that the elephant was deliberately fed a pineapple filled with crackers, which exploded in her mouth. However, this was later contradicted by forest officials, who said that she may have eaten food that was set as a trap by farmers to prevent wild boars from destroying crops.
There's no conclusive evidence that injury to lower jaw was caused by pineapple stuffed wd cracker. However this may be a possibility. Dept. has booked offence against unknown offenders, whose identity is being established.— Kerala Forest Department (@ForestKerala) June 3, 2020
In a bid to relieve the pain and stave off flies, the elephant immersed herself in the Velliyar river, where she died despite efforts to bring her to land for treatment. The Malayala Manorama newspaper reported that she died after water entered her lungs. The post-mortem report revealed that the elephant was pregnant.
The incident, which was reported from the fringe areas of the Silent Valley in Attappadi, Palakkad, understandably provoked widespread outrage within the state and outside. Several celebrities—including Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and industrialist Ratan Tata—politicians and animal welfare organisations posted about the incident and called for the government to take action. The state government has announced a probe into the incident.
However, Twitter user @Ra_shmi_Tweets noted on Wednesday that large numbers of people had begun to copy and post Kohli’s tweet. A search on the platform showed hundreds of tweets...