'What's happening at Anakkotta?' High Court asks Guruvayur Devaswom

It is clear from the footage that the elephants were beaten continuously with 'Vadikkol' (a stick used to master jumbos). Photo: Screengrab: Manorama News.

Kochi: The Kerala High Court reacted strongly after the footage of elephants being thrashed in the Punnathur Anakkotta (elephant fort) under the Guruvayur Devaswom came to light. The court inquired as to who was in charge of the elephant enclosure and also inquired against whom action was taken.

The court asked the Guruvayur Devaswom if it knew what was going on in Punnathur Anakkotta and directed it to ensure that all orders regarding the protection of elephants are followed. “Strict action should be taken against those who misbehave with elephants,” the court said. It also directed that board to ensure that CCTV was installed at Anakkotta.

A bench of Justices Anil K Narendran and G Girish directed Punnathurkota Deputy Administrator KS Mayadevi to file an affidavit by Tuesday on the incident and the action taken. The court made the Range Forest Officer of the Social Forestry Department a party in the case and asked them to submit a report on the incident by Tuesday.

The High Court has also directed the Divisional Forest Officer Flying Squad to reach Punnathur Anakotta today and conduct an inspection. This report should also be submitted to the court on Tuesday.

The court's action is based on a petition filed by Sangeeta Iyer, the founder of the Asian Elephants Society. Two mahouts attached to the Punnathur Anakkotta belonging to Guruvayur Devaswom, were suspended for torturing elephants, including a jumbo presented to the temple by the late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
The action against the mahouts was taken pending inquiry after video footage of them torturing two elephants went viral on social media on Thursday morning. 
According to sources, the incident took place a month ago at the Thekke Nada Sheeveli ground. 

Elephant presented to Guruvayur temple by the late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa in 2001; Jayalalithaa feeds elephant in 2004 visit. File Photo: Manorama

It is clear in the footage that the elephants were continuously beaten with 'Vadikkol' (a stick used to master the elephants). The footage contains three different video grabs. One showed mahout thrashing Krishna, the elephant presented to the temple by the late J Jayalalithaa.

In the second video grab, the mahout is seen beating up an elephant named Kesavankutty and in the third grab, Gajendra a third elephant is seen walking with a limp, possibly due to beating up by the mahouts.  Soon after the video went out to the public, the Devaswom authorities initiated an investigation following which the mahouts of both Krishna and Kesavankutty were suspended.

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