Arikomban continues to trigger panic in Idukki, natives to intensify protest

The feature of Arikomban (translated in Malayalam as Ari-rice and Komban-tusker) is it attacks ration shops and houses for rice. Photo: Manorama

Idukki: Upset with the High Court's decision on staying the mission to capture wild tusker named Arikomban, the natives decided to intensify their protest. An all-party meeting held here on Thursday also decided to continue the protest until Arikomban is caught. 

Meanwhile, Arikomban is continuing to roam around the residential areas with a herd of elephants. Manorama News has aired the visuals of the elephants camping near Idukki cement bridge. Forest watchers are observing the movements of these wild elephants. 

Family members of the people who turned victims of the wild elephant attack will join the protest against the High Court order. Public representatives will attend a dharna at Pooppara on Friday. 

A dawn-dusk hartal was observed in Idukki on Thursday. Angry protesters, including children and women, from 10 villages in the hilly district of Idukki on Thursday were out on the streets, blocking traffic on the Kochi-Dhanushkodi highway.

This highway passes through Idukki and the protesters are unhappy with the Kerala High Court's Wednesday decision involving wild tusker 'Arikomban' and two other rogue elephants causing destruction to life and properties of people in these affected villages.

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday warned the state of strict action if it found that the area in Idukki district where these wild tuskers, including 'Arikomban', were roaming had been an elephant habitat before the tribals were resettled there.

The division bench, according to the protesters, instead of helping them, called for records and reports on the resettlement of tribal people in the area back in 2000. The court said, "If it was an elephant habitat, you had no business resettling people there and putting them in danger. The court said that resettling people in an elephant habitat was the root of the entire problem."

"We will examine it. If it was an elephant habitat, then your policy makers went way off board. If people were resettled there despite being aware of this fact, we will come down heavily on those responsible.

"Errors in history can be corrected later in time. We need to find whether the mistake happened and if yes, correct it," the bench said, and declined to issue any direction in the interim for capture and captivity of the wild tuskers, including 'Arikomban'.

The feature of Arikomban (translated in Malayalam as Ari-rice and Komban-tusker) is it attacks ration shops and houses for rice.

The villagers are unhappy with the court decision as it said that it will constitute a five-member committee that would decide whether to capture the wild elephant and turn it into a captive tusker or relocate it to interior areas of the forest.

It further said that till the panel came to a decision by the next week, the tusker was not to be captured and put in captivity, but allowed tranquilising for a limited purpose of radio-collaring it to track its movements.

"We are not going to stop our protests and we will do it, only when some concrete things come out, as we are fed up living in constant fear. Lives are lost and properties are being destroyed," said a group of angry protesters.

Meanwhile, state Forest Minister A.K. Saseendran said the people have the right to protest as the Court's directive complicated things.

"The state will go forward exploring all the legal remedies and it will seek legal recourse," said Saseendran.
(With IANS inputs)

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