Kerala forest minister K Raju on Friday said that one person has been arrested in connection with the tragic incident in which a pregnant wild elephant suffered a painful death in the state after consuming a fruit laced with explosives.
The arrested man is reportedly employed in a nearby farm that cultivates cash crops and spices. The elephant was spotted near the farm before its death. While questioning a few farmers, the investigative team got information related to the use of explosives. According to police sources, the man has confessed to aiding the commission of offence.
The minister said more arrests will be made by the evening. “The action will not stop here as there are more people involved. Police and Forest department are carrying out effective investigation,” K Raju said.
On Thursday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said justice would prevail and said an investigation is underway and is focusing on three suspects. "The police and forest departments will jointly investigate the incident. The district police chief and the district forest officer visited the site today. We will do everything possible to bring the culprits to justice," he said in a tweet.
He said three suspects are under the scanner of teams probing the gory death of the animal. Personnel of Kerala police and the forest department's Crime Investigation Team, probing the incident which triggered widespread outrage especially on social media, visited the spot and collected evidence, Vijayan said, assuring that all concerns raised will not go in vain and justice will prevail and the culprits brought to book.
Forest department sources said the three suspects were being questioned and a search was on for two more people in connection with the case.
Principal chief conservator of forest and chief wildlife warden Surendra Kumar told News18 the elephant being fed a pineapple filled with crackers is just one of the possibilities, which has not been ruled out. “We don't have evidence of that yet,” he said.
The elephant suffered an injury in her lower jaw reportedly after she ate a pineapple stuffed with crackers which exploded in her mouth on May27. She later died, while standing in the river Velliyar.
Its jaw was found broken. The cruelty of the act has caused global outrage and led to the Kerala forest department launching an investigation. The central government also ordered a probe into the incident.