Guwahati: The Assam government will move the court against the Tamil Nadu government for not returning an elephant, which has been subjected to torture at a temple, as alleged by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India.
The temple elephant, known as Joymala in Assam, where she`s from, has been kept in the illegal custody of the Srivilliputhur Nachiyar Thirukovil temple for over a decade and she is now at the nearby Krishnan Kovil temple.
Just when it looked like that life was improving for this temple elephant, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), India, has submitted a new veterinary inspection report to forest department officials in Tamil Nadu and Assam showing the continued abuse of the captive tusker, Joymalas or Jeymalyatha.
The recent evidence of abuse shows the use of weapons, including pliers by the latest mahout, who was put in place after numerous other mahouts were caught on video beating her.
The shocking report also reveals that the tusker was beaten so savagely she can be heard screaming in pain in a viral video filmed at the holiest of places — the sanctum sanctorum of the Krishnan Kovil temple, where she is kept chained to the floor.
Assam’s principal chief conservator of forest and chief wildlife warden MK Yadava told this newspaper on Tuesday that as Joymala, the adult female elephant, could not be brought back to the state due to non-cooperation from the Tamil Nadu government, the Assam government decided to take legal recourse.
He said that after more than a year of communication, the chief wildlife warden of Tamil Nadu had issued an order in April or May this year granting permission to take away Joymala. “However, the technical problem is that the Tamil Nadu forest department needs to take possession of the animal. It is only then that we can bring it. Otherwise, it will become a case of robbery,” Yadava said.
“The Tamil Nadu government had requested us to bear all expenses. We said to share your bank account details and we will transfer Rs 5 lakh. We will subsequently make the full payment of all expenses required to secure the animal,” Yadava added. The Tamil Nadu government manages the temple trust but despite the order, it has not released Joymala. “We are ready from our side to bring back the elephant,” Yadava said.
The Assam government had written to the Tamil Nadu government for the release of altogether six elephants. Similarly, Yadava said it is now writing to the Odisha government to return four-five other elephants.
“We act whenever we receive some complaint,” he said adding, “Once the elephant in question is brought back, we will give her a happy retired life, maybe in one of our parks where it can roam free without any departmental duty to perform.” Joymala was leased out to the temple in 2008, reportedly for six months, by an individual from Assam’s Tinsukia.
On August 26, PETA India exposed the abuse of Joymala. In a video, a mahout was seen beating up Joymala using weapons, including pliers. “She was beaten so ruthlessly that she can be heard screaming in pain in a viral video,” PETA India said in a statement. The manner in which the animal is being managed at the temple has ruffled the feathers of wildlife activists in Assam.
One of them, who refused to be named, said he would also file a case in the court against the Tamil Nadu government and the temple trust. “The temple trust hasn’t been able to manage the animal,” said the activist.
Previously, a video showed Jeymalyatha screaming while being beaten by two mahouts at a rejuvenation camp.
Although the Tamil Nadu Forest Department had encouraged PETA India to inspect the elephant and report on its findings, the mahout refused to allow the group`s investigating team to openly take photographs and video footage.