'I could only scream..,' witness recollects wild elephant attack on Indira in Idukki

Susan, friend and neighbour of Indira. Photo: Manorama

Kothamangalam: The tragic death of Indira Ramakrishnan (70) in an attack by a wild elephant at Neriamangalam in Ernakulam district of Kerala on Monday has left her neighbour and friend Susan Thomas devastated as she was an eyewitness to the incident.

“I could only scream when I saw the tusker holding Indira between its legs and repeatedly attacking her with its tusks. When the elephant left Indira, I rushed to her, along with her relatives,” said Susan, who is of the same age as Indira.

“We took Indira near my house, which was closest to the scene of the attack. She gestured for some water and on sipping a little of it, Indira lost consciousness,” added Susan.

Indira was immediately rushed to hospital and Susan prayed for the life of her dear friend. “But we soon heard that Indira had succumbed to her injuries,” said Susan.

Meanwhile, Susan recalled the incidents on the fateful day with a shudder. 

“On Monday morning, Indira was harvesting arrowroot along with her husband Ramakrishnan on their farmland. On seeing me, she came over to exchange some pleasantries. We were speaking about the crop and suddenly my son Wilson screamed that he had seen a wild elephant while coming home. I shouted to Indira to run away from the place, but she did not hear me properly as she had a hearing problem due to old age,” she said.

“The wild tusker reached the spot in no time and Indira was stranded on her farmland right in front of the animal,” said Susan. “The incident did not take place on forest land,” she added.

Susan blamed the authorities for the tragedy. “We make a living by engaging in agriculture on our land for which there are all proper title deeds. But nobody listens to our plight. We will be spared of our misery if the politicians in power and the Forest Department kill us all,” she said in despair.

According to Susan, the farmers in the area were unable to cultivate any crop owing to the threat posed by wild elephants. “Moreover, we don’t enjoy benefits such as welfare pensions or other government support,” she pointed out.

An unfathomable loss

Meanwhile, the loss suffered by Ramakrishnan (74), Indira’s husband, is indescribable. “We could hardly engage in cultivation and earn an income due to the troubles created by wild elephants for some time. Now, our lives too are being taken away,” he said, sobbing.

Ramakrishnan’s family had settled in the area around 75 years ago and he said that wild elephants did not pose much of a problem for around 50 years. “Initially, when my family came here, there was the threat of elephants. Then, for around 50 years, there was no trouble,” he said.

“However, raids by wild elephants on farmland have been frequent during the last eight years. Presently, the only crop that we can grow is rubber,” said Ramakrishnan.

He also urged the government to take steps to ensure that no more people died in elephant attacks.

Incidentally, Ramakrishnan and his son Shibu did not take part in the protest staged in Kothamangalam town against Indira’s death even though they were present at Kothamangalam Taluk Hospital.

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