Misreporting Kerala elephant’s death sparks off wave of hate campaign against Muslims

TCN News

The death of a pregnant elephant in Palakkad District of Kerala has started a new wave of hatred towards the Muslim community of India.

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The 15-year-old elephant had allegedly eaten a pineapple filled with firecrackers that exploded in its mouth, leaving it in excruciating pain while it restlessly moved around nearby villages for days. Finally, it succumbed and died in the Velliyar river.

This incident quickly got stirred into a controversy to promote hatred against Muslims when BJP leader Maneka Gandhi accused the incident had happened in Malappuram which is a Muslim majority district. She claimed, “It’s murder. Malappuram is famous for such incidents, it’s India’s most violent district.”

Responding to the same, BJP’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, resounded Maneka’s accusation calling it “a killing” that was perpetrated by locals “in Malappuram, Kerala.” He even notified that central government has taken a “very serious note” of it.

In no time the mainstream national media started relaying misleading reports of violent Muslim locals torturing the animal and BJP’s popular loyalists like Payal Rohatgi, Arun Puddur and various other leaders followed suit. A storm of hate speech ravaged into social media with hundreds of posts suspecting that the killer could be a Muslim since the incident occurred in a Muslim majority village (Malappuram) –  which was later reported to be factually incorrect (the incident happened at Palakkad). News also followed that the elephant was intentionally ‘fed’ the pineapple. However, an urgent probe into the matter suggests that the elephant might have “accidently” consumed it.

KK Sunil Kumar, Mannarkkad Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) informed that it is a common practice among locals to use country bombs for keeping away wild animals from farms and plantations.

Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, recently corrected the misinformation that the incident was from Palakkad and not Malappuram, leading news outlets to rectify the previous information. He also tweeted, “There is a targeted campaign against Kerala, Malappuram. People including Union Ministers involved in campaign against Kerala. If it was a misconception, they would’ve corrected it. But the fact that they are not correcting shows its’ deliberate.”

As further investigation into the elephant’s death is continuing, journalist Dhanya Rajendra tweeted about the postmortem report which suggests, “Injuries in the oral cavity, most likely due to an explosive blast in the mouth.”

As of now, three suspects have been identified and one arrested in connection with the case.