By Saurabh Gupta
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has ordered the release of Sunder the elephant into a sanctuary. 13-year-old Sunder who has been in captivity and was kept chained inside a dark shed at a Temple in the Kolhapur district of Maharashtra for seven years will finally be free from the torture. The Bombay High Court asks authorities to implement a state government order to release Sunder into the wild that was issued in August 2012.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) had moved court after forest officials refused to carry out the Maharashtra Government's orders.
PETA India's Director of Veterinary Affairs Dr. Manilal Valliyate told NDTV, "Sunder has seen misery, loneliness, he has been in chains. We are very happy that the HC has allowed him to be moved to a sanctuary."
Celebrities like Paul McCartney, Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, Pamela Anderson, Arjun Rampal, R Madhavan, Gulshan Grover, Dino Morea and many others had campaigned for Sunder's release and supported PETA's movement.
Amitabh Bachchan told NDTV, "I support these organisations that look after entrapped animals and give them freedom. I interacted with the NGO and the person involved with this elephant. I helped him financially when he had no money to bring this animal back to life when he was almost dying. We are still working at it. We have spoken, I have written letters. I tweet about it. I write about it. But, eventually it's the system that's going to make up their mind."
Actor Dino Morea told NDTV, "The system is a bit flawed and because of that it takes that much time for an elephant kept in chains being tortured, to be released."
Sunder will now be moved to a sanctuary near Bangalore. But like Sunder nearly 3500 captive elephants in India including circus and temple elephants are living the same hell. That is because the Wildlife Protection Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act meant to prevent wild animals from meeting the same fate as Sunder are hardly implemented.
Dr. Chaitanya Koduri from PETA India, "We are trying our level best to implement the laws but still there are certain violations and one of the primary reasons is, because there are not enough shelters. So the government should put that issue first, that proper shelter which simulates the natural environment because not all the elephants can be released back into the wild."
Dr. Manilal Valliyate added, "All over in India wherever the temples keep elephants, the misery is the same."
Sunder's story is one that's much too common in India which leaves animals in severe psychological and physical distress. PETA hopes the Bombay High Court order will pave the way for more animals to be released.