Amid the ongoing spate between Assam and Tamil Nadu in the elephant custody case, the Gauhati high court on Friday while hearing a petition filed by the Assam government directed the Tamil Nadu government to allow the Assam team to inspect Srivilliputhur temple elephant Joymala.
Earlier this week, the Assam government filed a petition in Guwahati High Court seeking the custody of Joyamala, a temple elephant that the state had given to Tamil Nadu on lease.
The court directed the Tamil Nadu chief secretary, additional chief secretary, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), and the DGP to permit the team from Assam to visit the temple where Joymala is kept and also directed to provide adequate security to the team.
“The court issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu government to provide arrangements for the team of Assam who is staying in Chennai to inspect the health condition of Joymala and other eight elephants,” Advocate General of Assam Devajit Lon Saikia told ANI.
The development came a day after the Tamil Nadu government refused to return the elephants it had taken from Assam.
Tamil Nadu additional advocate general J Ravindran told a bench of justices M Duraiswamy and Sunder Mohan of Madras high court that the state government has no plans of sending back Joymala to Assam.
Notably, the Assam government moved to the Gauhati High Court following the reports of torture on elephants and sought the direction to bring back the elephants, especially temple elephant Joymala which the state had given to Tamil Nadu on lease.
This controversy started after the animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a video, claiming that Joymala was being subjected to cruelty at a temple in Tamil Nadu. However, the Tamil Nadu government dined these accusations.
The Ministry of Environment and Forest endorsed Tamil Nadu’s claim that Joymala is doing well.
“Several disturbing videos of Joyamala are being circulated on social media recently, but these videos are old. The latest inspection report issued on the matter shows that the elephant is doing well now and is in healthy condition. The present team taking good care of Joymala,” the Ministry tweeted.
Meanwhile, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest of the Assam state MK Yadava said that Tamil Nadu, in a letter, admitted that Joymala was tortured but her health is now fine.
Assam claims it had leased nine elephants, including Joymala, to Tamil Nadu.