Kerala: Animal rights campaigners allege elephant torture at Thrissur Pooram festival

As many as 79 elephants are being tortured by making the pachyderms stand in direct sunlight as part of the 36-hour-long festival, they said.

By: PTI | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: April 17, 2016 4:00 pm
kerala, kerala festival, kerala temples, Thrissur, Thrissur festival, Pooram festival, Thrissur Pooram festival, elephants, elephants torture, animal torture, festival animal torture, Thrissur Pooram festival animal torture, kerala festival animal torture, india news Thrissur: ‘Thechikottukavu Ramachandran’ to open the door of the southern gopuram of the Vadakkumnathan temple to formally announce the beginning of the Thrissur Pooram. PTI Photo

Animal rights campaigners alleged that the Animal Welfare Board of India experts had been blocked from examining the jumbos, paraded at the famous Thrissur Pooram festival which began on Sunday, amid strict guidelines for its conduct. As many as 79 elephants are being tortured by making the pachyderms stand in direct sunlight as part of the 36-hour-long festival, they said.

A team of six veterinarians, appointed by AWBI, were collectively prevented by officials of state Animal Husbandry and Forest Departments along with Thrissur district collector and police on Saturday, V K Venkitachalam, secretary of Heritage Animal Task Force, a Thrissur-based animal rights forum, alleged.

Citing the issues, he sent a letter to the Director, Project Elephant, under the Union government, demanding action against the officials for misuse of power. In the letter, he said the Supreme Court had ordered the Kerala government to reconstitute the district level elephant monitoring committee chaired by the Collector by adding a new member nominated by AWBI for each district in Kerala.

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The apex court had also reiterated that any elephant parade in each district must be approved by such a newly constituted district level elephant monitoring committee, the letter, which was released to the media, said. “But yesterday, with the tacit support of Thrissur district Collector, the veterinary doctors appointed by AWBI were prevented from inspecting the health conditions of the elephants,” it said.

“This type of blatant misuse of official power by the collector must be inquired in detail and such violations must be penalised at the earliest,” it added.

PETA India, another animal rights campaigner, also came out against the alleged act of not permitting AWBI experts to examine the health status of jumbos. “The non-cooperation of the Kerala government shows that the only way to ensure the alleviation of suffering of captive elephants in the state is to ban their use, remove them from captivity and to send them to sanctuaries where they can live out their lives in peace unchained,” PETA India Director of Veterinary Affairs Dr Manilal Valliyate said in a release.

The famous Thrissur Pooram festival began amid tight security in the light of the Kollam temple tragedy and strict guidelines issued by the Kerala High Court for its conduct.

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  1. Frank Smith
    Dec 10, 2017 at 5:36 am
    Elephants are socially tight, family-oriented, sentient, intelligent creatures. Despite their size, the largest land mammal of the planet, they are sensitive: to food, to sunlight, to being shackled, to being separated from their own. All those are problems to which I, a human, am also sensitive. The elephant is the earthly representative of Ganesh, a god, then how can this animal be treated so poorly? It is more than the elephant deserves to be freed from captivity - the elephant requires to be a creature of the habitation to which it is born. And just as humans have fought to be free, then no animal should be held captive. The Kerala festival can use humans in costume to represent elephants. The elephants can be visited in sanctuaries or left to roam the streets where the may be seen and honored. It is the righteous action to take.
    1. C
      Concerned Citizen
      Apr 19, 2016 at 12:53 pm
      Two wrongs don't make a right. Everyone must treat animals respectfully even if it is part of tradition or ritual. Just because one religion kills 1000s of goats does not mean that elephants should not be treated well by another religion. Also, that religion that kills 1000s of goats also kills 1000s of people in the name of religion. Can Hindus learn anything from them? I don't think so.
      1. H
        Harley Robert
        May 5, 2016 at 5:52 pm
        The use of elephants in these festivals has absolutely nothing to do with religion and everything to do with MONEY. MONEY for the temples and the owners. The Supreme Court is going to put a stop to the illegal, immoral and self dealing that goes on with the officials charged with protecting the elephants being paid off to look the other way. The world is not going to put up with this and yes, you can expect retribution to the people who profit from this. All of them should start looking over their shoulder because revenge is best when served cold.
        1. Gruham Bendakaluru
          Apr 18, 2016 at 1:40 pm
          Lakhs of goats are killed during Bakrid...these animal rights activists will not object then because they get a share of the Biriyani.
          1. M
            Manoj Parashar
            Apr 17, 2016 at 11:24 am
            And what about the festivals when numberless animals are butchered in celebration. These activists have any courage to speak against killings of these animals.
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