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 death allegedly took place after she consumed a fruit stuffed with explosives that were possibly left behind by locals which they use as a trap for wild boars to protect their fields. 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 elephant death 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 for the elephant death.
BJP MP Maneka Gandhi not only wrongly attributed the incident to Malappuram, but she also 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.
The elephant death indeed took place in Palakkad district and not in 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.
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 unauthorized “raids” targetted cattle traders, mostly Muslims.
Several Twitter users began blaming Muslims for the killing, citing that it took place in Malappuram.