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Communal Virus

Communal Virus

It is nothing but outrageous that the tragic death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala is being used to spread the communal virus by the vicious minds. There is no doubt that the persons responsible for the death of the animal should be brought to the book and the Kerala government is not leaving any stone unturned to find out the culprits. As per the Kerala Forest Minister, one person was arrested on Friday, 5th June. The investigation has also brought to light that the incident happened in Palakkad district in Kerala and not in Malappuram, as alleged by some communal minded politicians and overenthusiastic animal lovers.

The earth belongs to all beings and the wellbeing of humans requires the co-existence of animals, birds, plants, trees and all kinds of creatures that God has created. Any deliberate attempt to create imbalance in the nature by wanton killing of animals and indiscriminate cutting of trees cannot be condoned.

Unfortunately some persons with vicious minds and overenthusiastic animal lovers used the social media platforms to present the incident as if a national disaster has taken place. They did not have the patience to gather right information from the right sources before going to the social media, hurling wild allegations. The prejudiced minds always look for any unfortunate incident to target persons or communities they dislike.

Maneka Gandhi, a former Union Minister, reacted violently to the reported incident and a Central minister jumped on to the scene to take political mileage. On June 3, Maneka Gandhi, had tweeted: “Malapuram is known for its intense criminal activity especially with regards to animals. No action has ever been taken against a single poacher or wildlife killer so they keep doing it.” Not to be outdone, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the Central Govt had taken a serious note of the matter and would leave no stone unturned to catch the culprits. Other politicians, celebrities like Virat Kohli, Ratan Tata, and animal activists also tweeted as if a great tragedy gripped on India.

First of all, nobody can easily feed crackers to a wild elephant, however smart he or is. The preliminary investigations indicate that the wild elephant wandered into a private land where pineapple or coconut stuffed with crackers  was kept to trap wild boars and  the elephant might have eaten it. No purposeful attempt was made to kill a pregnant elephant, as alleged in the social media by the obsessive animal lovers and the vicious minded politicians. Secondly, a deliberate attempt was made by the communal elements to situate the incident in Malappuram district, even though the incident took place in Palakkad district.

Deccan Herald on June 6 reported that a false claim went viral on the social media about the arrest of Amzath Ali and Tamim Shaik as the culprits in Kerala elephant death case. At the same time, the Palakkad SP, G Shiva Vikram termed the social media claim fake and informed that a man named P. Wilson has been arrested in the matter. It shows that the social media warriors infected with the communal virus have become the super spreaders of hatred and social disharmony in India. As the Kerala Chief Minister has rightly said, "Lies built upon inaccurate descriptions and half-truths were employed to obliterate the truth. Some even tried to import bigotry into the narrative”.

The accusation of Maneka Gandhi has a definite political connotation. Malappuram is the only Muslim majority district in Kerala and she was indirectly hinting that Muslims are the culprits and they are prone to killing elephants and other animals. Even though she was told that the incident took place in Palakkad district and not in Malappuram, she was not ready to express regret for the wrong statement she had made. That is why the Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, made a strong statement against the persons who are deliberately spreading misinformation.

"There is an organised campaign against Kerala and Malappuram at national level.... it is really unfortunate that certain people are using this incident to tarnish the image of the state and of Malappuram in particular," he said. In spite of having clarified that the incident took place in Palakkad and not in Malappuram as being propagated, people including central ministers are still not willing to correct the mistake. It now looks like they are doing it deliberately. This is not acceptable and any efforts to spread hatred using this incident will not be tolerated," said the Chief Minister.

Slamming Maneka Gandhi, the Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said that her statement on Malappuram had "given a space for airing hate speeches abusing a district and its people".

The people of Malappuram district reacted strongly, but adhering to the principles of the Indian Constitution, to the vicious communal propaganda. Advocate Subhash Chandran, who belongs to Malappuram district, on 4th June, filed a complaint, seeking FIR against Maneka Gandhi and others for allegedly indulging in a ‘derogatory’ campaign against the district.

It was reported in the media that on 7th June, the World Environmental Day, a tree was planted by Muslim Youth League state president Munavarali Shihab Thangal along with the priest of Thripuranthaka temple at the temple premises in a response to the former Union Minister, Maneka Gandhi. In fact the two religious leaders wanted to convey the message of secularism and social harmony to those who spread the virus of hatred. "We intend to give out a message of secularism. We named the tree, ‘ Maithree’. Malappuram has a history of protecting the temples and mosques without any discrimination”, said the two religious leaders.

Assam has the highest number of deaths of wild elephants in India. According to a report in Deccan Herald during 2010-19 there was phenomenal increase in the death of elephants in Assam. 92 elephants died due to electrocution, 20 died as victims of poaching and 30 due to poisoning. Why Maneka Gandhi and the other animal lovers are not questioning the Assam Government for the increasing death of elephants in Assam. Something is wrong with the mindset. Persons with prejudice and hatred are bound to lose objectivity and the desire to know the truth.

The Times of India reported on 7th June the tragic death of a 30 year old pregnant woman, named Neelam Kumari. She died after 8 hospitals in Noida refused to admit her citing lack of beds. She was on the road for 13 hours when she died. More than 50 innocent people were brutally lynched by hate-filled mobs between 2014 and 2019. About 200 migrant workers died due to exhaustion, hunger and thirst and accidents during their return to home towns and villages. Are these human beings less than an elephant? Why did Maneka Gandhi and the celebrities who shed crocodile tears on the death of an elephant keep mum? Where was their moral indignation?

The corona virus has already infected almost 3 lakh persons and killed about 8000 in India as on 13th June. The concern of all Indians now should be how to provide succour to the infected and affected persons. True nationalism is expressing compassion to the suffering Indians who constitute, “We, the people of India”. Instead of spreading communal virus to divide the people of India the animal lovers and “nationalists” should extend their helping hands to the suffering millions of India along with their concern for animals. But bigotry under the guise of love for animals is totally unacceptable.  

(jacobpt48@gmail.com)

(Published on 15th June 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 25)