At a time when even a pandemic like COVID-19 is seen from the prism of religion, it's hardly surprising that even the tragic death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala has been given a communal colour.
The elephant’s death allegedly took place after she consumed a fruit stuffed with explosives that were possibly left behind by locals and this sparked a great deal of shock and outrage.
While much of the outrage rightly centered around violence against animals, some tried to give it a communal spin.
It began with misleading news that the incident took place in Malappuram, the only Muslim majority district in Kerala, even though the elephant died in the Mannarkkad division of Palakkad district.
The Union government also ended up falling for the misleading information, with Union Minister Prakash Javadekar also blaming Malappuram.
Central Government has taken a very serious note of the killing of an elephant in Mallapuram, #Kerala. We will not leave any stone unturned to investigate properly and nab the culprit(s). This is not an Indian culture to feed fire crackers and kill.@moefcc @PIB_India @PIBHindi— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) June 4, 2020
BJP MP Maneka Gandhi not only wrongly attributed the incident to Malappuram, she went on to accuse it of being the "most violent district" in the country.
It's murder,Malappuram is famous for such incidents, it's India's most violent district.For instance, they throw poison on roads so that 300-400 birds & dogs die at one time: Maneka Gandhi,BJP MP&animal rights activist on elephant's death after being fed cracker-stuffed pineapple pic.twitter.com/OtLHsuiuAq— ANI (@ANI) June 3, 2020
Strangely she went on to blame Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is MP from Wayanad, which is at a different location.
These claims proved to be false.
The Quint confirmed that the incident indeed took place in Palakkad district and not Malappuram.
"The elephant was found dead in a forest area in the Mannarkkad division of Palakkad district. Such incidents have happened in the past but we have taken all steps to prevent them," K Sunil Kumar, Divisional Forest Office, Mannarkkad, told The Quint.
This isn't the first time Maneka Gandhi has been accused of targetting Muslims in the name of protecting animals.
In 2017 she wrote a post saying "Muslims get a free pass to slaughter goats on Bakrid".
In the past, Maneka Gandhi's NGO People For Animals has conducted unauthorised "raids" targetted cattle traders, mostly Muslims.
‘Don’t Communalise,’ Say Malayalis
Several Twitter users began blaming Muslims for the killing, citing that it took place in Malappuram.
Between left and right, Hindu and Muslim humanity is nowhere to be seen. Can't believe young Indians have lost the capacity to think beyond divisive propaganda. An Elephant lost her life due to some monster and the lady is busy peddling Hindu-Muslim theory.#India #ElephantDeath pic.twitter.com/1qC7oNbxYz— Durgesh (@DurgeshAgrahari) June 3, 2020
However, many others, including Malayalam actors like Neeraj Madhav and Parvathy, called out the communal propaganda.
Just how you jump at an opportunity to make this an anti-Muslim, hate campaign is astonishing. Focus on the problem. ANIMALS ARE IN DANGER BECAUSE OF CRUEL EXPLOSIVE SNARES. Talk about the actual issue here!— Parvathy Thiruvothu (@parvatweets) June 3, 2020
. Read more on Breaking News by The Quint.Sunday View: The Best Weekend Opinion Reads, Curated Just For YouRSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand Deaths . Read more on Breaking News by The Quint.