By T. Sudheesh
ALAPPUZHA: The elephant rights in the country got a shot in the arm with the Allahabad High Court’s verdict on Tuesday allowing tusker Raju to live in a sanctuary in Mathura, UP.
It had been cruelly treated and chained for the last 50 years by its owner, an alleged drug dealer and addict in Uttar Pradesh, and its legs were permanently injured.
The verdict should be a deterrent to all elephant owners in Kerala, which is infamous for perpetrating cruelty towards elephants, according to elephant rights activists.
The tragic life of Raju had moved many people around the world earlier this year and some 75,000 members of Care2 community, an online petition forum, had jointly signed two petitions to take Raju away from the owner.
It now lives in Mathura with four other elephants which are being taken care of by the Wildlife SOS, an organization based in New Delhi that played a pivotal role in rescuing the tusker. It works to protect and conserve India's natural heritage, forests and wildlife wealth.
Noted elephant rights activists V.K. Venkitachalam welcomed the verdict which, he said, would be a new beginning for elephant rights activism in the country, especially Kerala.
It may be recalled that his efforts had borne fruit in 2006 when the Kerala High Court, in a landmark judgment, directed the Forest Department and the police to implement the Kerala Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules.
“There are a number of elephants in the state enduring cruel treatment. This is a victory not only for Raju, but for every elephant suffering in pain silently.
The elephant was declared as a national heritage animal in 2010 on the basis of the recommendation made by the Elephant Task Force (ETF) set up by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in February 2010,” he points out.