A couple of days back, there was a news on NDTV about a pregnant elephant that died after it supposedly ate a pineapple stuffed with explosives.
The news was based the below facebook post by a forest official from Kerala’s Malappuram district, Mohan Krishnan. He had posted a sorrow filled condolence and good-bye to the jumbo.
When NDTV first published this news on 2nd June, there were 2 things that were part of the article –
- It said that the elephant was fed pineapple filled with explosives by some locals and
- that the incident happened in the Malappuram district of Kerala.
They then went on to edit this news on 4th June, to reflect a mistake in their first article. In fact, there were primarily 2 edits, the first one to reflect the mistake and the other one a pacifying tactic.
The incident had actually happened in Palakkad district of Kerala and not Malappuram. This was after the Kerala CM and the Forest minister came on social media and clarified this information on 4th June.
That was a full 2 days after the news was first published. The news and the social media posts had gone viral by then and the entire world had come to know of the incident
The Maneka Gandhi Twist
There were multiple people who were reached for reactions by media channels and one of them was BJP minister Maneka Gandhi.
Based on the news, she made a few comments which she then went on to tweet as well.
You might want to note that this tweet has nothing communal in it. While she mentions about 600 elephants have been killed in the state and talks about the intense criminal activity in the district, she mentions nothing that has a communal angle to it.
She also goes on to redirect queries to the forest minister of Kerala and a few other authorities, because of the number of people who were tagging her on this issue on Twitter.
This reaction of hers created a furore on social media with multiple fact checking websites going onto fact check her comments.
The authenticity of these fact checking websites is worth questioning and spending a few minutes on their websites will make their affinity absolutely clear. So their need to fact check this comment by Maneka Gandhi wouldn’t need an explanation.
But there was something else also that was happening on social media at about the same time.
The Malappuram Angle and the Hinduphobic defenses
Malappuram is one of the districts in Kerala which is known for communal riots. Malappuram is a muslim-majority district and more often than not, has been in the news for its Hinduphobic behavior. Very recently it was in the news for the vandalization of a Hindu temple.
Now given the impression of the place, it was natural for people to call out the district for the many communal riots.
And so it happened.
The references grew and there were quite a few people who started referring to the killing and calling out Kerala for the inaction.
At this point it is important to look at what led to this.
Kerala is one of the topmost states when it comes to political murders. This analysis published by first post shows that the state isn’t the greatest when it comes to murders, especially political murders.
The data that the article uses is from 2016 and since then a lot has changed, possibly for the worst, after the Pinarayi Vijayan government came to power.
The Indian Express had pegged the number at about 29 political murders in an article it published in Feb 2019. Again, there is a lot that has changed since then.
While the above numbers are questionable considering the under-reporting of these murders by the government, the fact that the state has always turned a blind-eye to these murders isn’t questionable at all.
Now add to it the fact that Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan has had a history of himself being involved in such murders and is a prime accused in the Vadikkal Ramakrishnan murder case, the first political murder in the state, and you know where all this is stemming from.
In spite of all this, there has been a very strange approach from a section of Malayalees from the state to all these – one to defend the state at all cost.
The state claims to be an ideal secular state but the shrinking Hindu population, increasing Muslim population and the large scale conversions to Christianity proves that it is more than this ideal situation that the state claims to be in.
This is another thing that the state keeps defending itself on.
And while doing this, they claim that Kerala is not a North India where any agenda will work.
But in doing this, they are themselves peddling an agenda is something that they conveniently ignore.
Nevertheless, back to the point in discussion.
The brutal killing of the elephant was quick to be related to the history of the state. And given the muslim dominant area it was initially reported to have happened in, the reference to the religion was also quick to grow.
Since the initial reference to Muslims being involved was because of the claim that the killing happened in Malappuram, it would soon have died a natural death after the news that this happened in Palakkad surfaced.
But by then Kerala and the section of Malayalees, that I spoke about a little while back, who have always defended themselves, had jumped into the ring and started doing what they always did – defend themselves.
Some of the social media posts on Facebook and Twitter were atrocious in their defense. But worst is when influencers resort to these cheap defensive social media posting.
Influencers and their Defenses
One such post was from the well known actor Prithviraj Sukumaran, which was soon to be retweeted and went viral.
Here’s the post –
What is ridiculous in the tweet, is the fact that he claims the killing wasn’t intentional but was accidental.
How insensitive can you be, when you call a brutal killing of a pregnant elephant as accidental?
He also defends the use of explosive laden fruits as snares to ward off wild boars.
Doesn’t this also mean that there are hundreds of such wild boars with jaws blown away by explosives roaming around and dying everyday?
Some of the other points in this is not even worth mentioning, though you might want to note the “no communal angle” point in the tweet. (More on that a little later)
But does it really matter to the few who can justify anything in the world for the sake of defending their ideologies.
Take a look at one such post on Facebook.
Check out the post and see how blatantly there is support for Muslims, when he talks about putting a “cap” on the pineapple.
It is people like these who comes over to defend Muslims and demonise Hindus, at the throw of a hat.
It is people like these who give and have always given a communal angle to everything.
It is the same people who will then create a narrative of “Islamophobia” and expect sympathy.
Some will disagree with me and say that the communal narrative came first from right wingers in social media.
To them I ask.
What do you expect when you are subjected to these kind of narratives for years and pushed to an extent that you have you back to the wall?
You start to push back. And that is precisely what is happening these days.
If I sound like I am defending an ideology, then I would recommend a frank and unbiased look at history to everyone, at least from the last 70 years.
Now to the most ironic end to this entire story.
Investigation into the brutal killing of the elephant revealed the involvement of an estate owner and his accomplice along with one of his workers.
And ironically the main culprits were Muslims, who are absconding as I write this article. And ironically again, it wasn’t an accident. But an intentional case of feeding the elephant with the explosive stuffed pineapple.
So the pineapple finally decided on wearing a “CAP”.
My Concluding Thoughts
When we venture out to justify the death of a poor mute animal, just because I want to defend an ideology, it signals the end of compassion in human beings. And without compassion, how long the species will survive is anybody’s guess.
Probably that is what we are witnessing over the last 6-7 months or, so with the COVID-19 pandemic. Isn’t it?