MOHNISH DANGE Thāne India
The Grey Politics....
Indira, an elephant named after Indira Gandhi, died on August 11, 1983. On her demise the then Tokyo Governor Shunichi Suzuki paid tribute to the elephant saying, “She played a good role in Japan-India friendship for more than 30 years.” The present generation is not aware about this beautiful story of India and Japan due to Indira – The Elephant. The aftermath of World War II on Japan was devastating. The country witnessed poverty, unemployment and inflation. One day Pandit Nehru, who used to get innumerable letters and he used to read all such letters, was surprised to see one such letter from Japan. Being a Prime Minister, it was obvious to think that the letter could be from Japan Government for some aid as the country was totally devastated. But this letter was from school children of Japan. The children had requested something from Pandit Nehru in the letter. Nehru was amused to read their request and due to his love for children he cannot resist himself and replied them by writing a letter that he will try to fulfill their request. The Japanese school children had requested Nehru to gift them an elephant. Yes. Elephant. The reason being, during the war they had lost two elephants in the zoo, and now they were completely desolated because they had no elephants. Nehru immediately started finding an elephant and he came across a 15 year old elephant which was named after his daughter. He sent Indira to Japan as a gift to the children and wrote a letter to them saying “treat Indira as a gift not from me, but from the children of India to the children of Japan. The elephant is a noble animal, much loved in India and typical of India. It is wise, patient, strong and gentle. I hope all of us will develop these qualities.” Japan authorities sent Indira to Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo and was recognised as symbol of peace and friendship between Japan and India. After delivering the gift to children of Japan, Nehru wrote a meaningful letter to children in India saying “Grown-ups have a strange way of putting themselves in compartments and groups. They build barriers of religion, caste, colour, party, nation, province, language, customs and of rich and poor. Fortunately, children do not know much about these barriers, which separate. They play and work with each other and it is only when they grow up that they begin to learn about these barriers from their elders. I hope you will take a long time in growing up…”
Pandit Nehru was absolutely right about his views on Grown-ups. Saffron and Green are the communal colors of India. Grey too joined their club now. The recent cruel act of killing a pregnant wild elephant has triggered a nationwide outrage. After the news of the tragedy broke out, many of us felt doleful and there was a state of vexation all over the country. There was suddenly love for animals all over the nation. Caricatures of elephant spread all over the social media. A senior union cabinet minister deluded the country by tweeting that incident happened in Mallapuram district of Kerala. There was indirect communalisation of the incident by some of the dolts because Mallapuram has a Muslim majority population and then started the famous Hindu Muslim outrage all over the country. The fact is the incident happened at Palakkad and not at Mallapuram. Maneka Gandhi too expressed her views which didn’t go well with many people including Kerala CM. She is a top Animal Activist as well and must understand that such deliberate acts will show a route for perpetrators to escape.
The elephant had chewed a pineapple filled with explosive fire crackers in it which lead to her death. According to news reports, Mannarkkad divisional forest officer (DFO) Sunil Kumar stated that the firecracker-filled fruit could have been placed to kill crop-raiding wild boars. Investigations were on but with the communal spin in active mode, the judges and advocates of social media had already delivered the verdict.
This is a murder and the culprits must be booked at any cost. The only point is the density of the nation wide outrage. Imagine, instead of elephant it could have been a pregnant pig. None of us would have been cared to know what exactly lead to the death of pig because the issue would not attract national coverage. The problem is there is a tag of ‘cute’ attached to many animals and birds like elephant, cat, dogs, penguins etc and they get more love because their traits and appearances are adorable. Those animals who lack the ‘cute’ tag such as pigs and rats fall prey to human attack. In our daily life, we hit, threaten, torture and kill many animals right from rat to cows and elephant due to various reasons. But the murders never come to limelight. This particular case came to limelight because one forest officer shared a post on his Facebook page with a melodramatic narrative. The same officer would have resisted to post on Facebook the intentional killings of wild boars. No one would have known about this incident if we didn’t have have Facebook today. In villages many animals are tortured and killed because they destroy their crops. In Uttar Pradesh many stray cattles are tortured, beaten, locked up by farmers because the cattles destroy the crops and it causes loss to farmers. Even heifers are not spared. Ask any animal welfare activists or veterinary doctor and they will tell you that almost every stray cow in India has plastic and medical waste choked in their intestines. Even this is a muder by anonymous persons. It’s common practice among farmers living on the borders of Mannarkkad forests to implant pineapples with explosives like fire crackers to scare away or kill wild boars because they destroy the farms. Isn’t this a murder of wild boars? Why there is no national coverage in such cases? There was a famous case of Uttarakhand where a police horse Shaktiman died in a horrific way after weeks of struggling with a injury on its hind leg during a BJP protest in Dehradun. Accused BJP MLA was arrested and later was given bail. Many people celebrated when a female wild boar was killed by forest officers in Pathanamthitta district. There must be same love for all animals and there should not be any discrimination.
The wild animals reside and roam in their forest and they have all right to do so. It is we, the humans, who have encroached upon their forest all over the India in some or other way. Many smugglers have used forest as the place for their illicit activities. For instance, Veerappan, who used to do all smuggling activities from Sathyamangalam forest, was famous for killing elephants for ivory smuggling in addition to smuggling of sandalwoods and kidnapping of politicians for ransom. After his death in 2004, there was rise in number of tigers in the said forest. Because of his encroachment in the forest, the tigers were forced to take sojourn elsewhere. He had killed many police and forest officers. The irony of India is Vidya Rani, daughter of the man who had killed many elephants – Veerapan, has joined BJP recently and Maneka Gandhi who is a top animal activist is also in the same party. The pivotal issue is the heartless people who usurp the forest land in the name of development in collusion with politicians and bureaucrats and leave the animals homeless. We need to condemn not only the killing of elephant but also killing of wild boar and all other animals. Killing of elephant could be fortuitous but killing of wild boar is planned, calculated and intentional. But we also need to condemn and stop the communal politics that is happening around us due to the grey color.