How a captive elephant on the loose spread mayhem in Palakkad in 6 hours covering 8 km

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Santosh with his wife Manjula, and children Aleena and Alin. Photo: Special arrangement.

Palakkad: Till Monday, Santosh, a carpenter had a house; one with a hall, a bedroom and a kitchen. On Tuesday, Santosh and his family rummaged through a mess of twisted sheets, broken roof tiles, concrete blocks and wooden splinters. It all happened in six hours. That's all an elephant named Akkaramel Sekharan took to leave the lives and properties of people in places near Kannadi in total disarray.

The elephant jumped off a lorry and scampered around in a rage, trampling over a calf, injuring cows, bringing houses to the ground and spreading panic all around. What started in the early morning hours, when the villagers were sleeping, went on till morning when the elephant was tamed and transported back.

All Santhosh hoped, while returning after a stressful work shift on Sunday night was a peaceful sleep at his small house he single-handedly built during the Covid days. He went to bed by 1.30 am after having rice and kuzhambu rasam served by his wife Manjula.

Their two kids, 12-year-old Aleena and eight-year-old Alin, who were to appear for their examinations the next day, had slept on their books a long time back. Everything was peaceful as hoped by Santhosh, until 3.45 am.

Santhosh, who was in deep sleep, was awakened by Manjula as she heard loud crumbling noises outside their 350 sqft tile roof house. By the time, he woke up, neighbours were yelling at them not to come out as an elephant was standing in front of their house.

"I didn’t take their words seriously for all these years in my life we have never seen wild elephants in our area, let alone wild boars. So, I thought some miscreants would have entered the compound," said Santhosh.

Santhosh, who is fascinated by the trendy illuminations had fixed numerous lights inside and outside his house. "I switched on all the lights and opened the front door and in the bright light, I saw an elephant standing right in front of me. I was terrified at first and couldn’t take a step. Suddenly, I ran inside the house, called Manjula and somehow grabbed my two kids and started running towards our ancestral home which is just 10 metres away from my home. As I looked back after entering the verandah of my old house, I saw the elephant walking towards my home. Then, those illuminating lights went off one by one and it was complete darkness," he said in a trembling voice.

Santhosh’s mother and younger brother are currently staying in the ancestral home and the entire family did not utter a single word for a long time. “At 5.30 am, we came out. It was not just the lights, the entire house was completely destroyed. It was a small house with a hall, bedroom and kitchen. Now, it’s a trash. All the valuables, a fridge, television, mixer grinder and the study table of our children… everything is damaged. We couldn’t send Aleena and Alin to their school on Tuesday as we lost their uniforms, books, bags and chappals,” he said.

Aleena and Alin study in the seventh and third classes respectively at the UP School, Puthucode near Kuzhalmannam. The police have registered two cases based on nine complaints. Many other houses and properties were also damaged in the incident.

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