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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thechikottukavu Ramachandran arrested and released on bail !!!


One of the many things that strikes the visitor to Kerala, is its rivers, abundance of coconut trees, big and powerful tuskers that could be seen walking on the road and sometimes being carried in trucks…  Elephants are majestic and tuskers with their height and beautiful white ivory tusks captivate….   One of the most valued mammoth, reportedly the second tallest elephant in Asia is 1964 born - Thechikottukavu Ramachandran, owned by Thrissur Thechikkottukavu Peramangalthu Devaswom.  This star elephant is in news now, albeit for wrong reasons.
majestic Ramachandran - source :wikipedia photo

The gigantic animal is in fact a Bihari which took time to understand Malayalam as it was trained in the beginning in  Bhojpuri and Hindi. The State loves him and he is regularly seen in local news and even has huge boards with good pictures of him.  At 3 m and 14 cm, he is said to be the tallest captive elephant in India, his large forehead held high, he has two long tusks that curve majestically, and a distinctive trunk that no one in his right mind gets in the way of. His main job is to be caparisoned as part of festive processions of temples in Kerala. Being the tallest, Ramachandran always has the honour of carrying the idol of the deity, a task that gets the tusker VIP treatment for the day. Ramachandran eats 10 kg of rice and 7-8 kg of chyavanaprasam, an ayurvedic paste, every day.  He is most sought after for festivals and is frequently travelling.

This elephant was reportedly bought at Bihar’s Sonepur festival when 18 years old and brought  to Kerala, whence in the initial days he suffered a cruel blow that was to leave him visually impaired. Humans have tortured him and in someways, he has been responsible for 3 deaths.  A 17-year-old boy was killed by Ramachandran during a festival in Palakkadu in 2009 reportedly for no fault of his.  It is stated that somebody threw a bunch of lit firecrackers which scared the elephant, which on running trampled one.   

Ramachandran has Court entry too arising out of the stabbing of another temple elephant  - idol-carrier for the Thiruvambadi temple trust in Thrissur. In 1998, Ramachandran stabbed Chandrasekharan with his tusks so badly that the injured elephant fell ill and died the following year. The Thiruvambadi trust filed a case against the Thechikottukavu temple, but Ramachandran was ‘acquitted’ by a court in the absence of sufficient evidence to prove the charge against him.

Ramachandran is much adored, has a great fan following, is offered lot of  bananas, sugarcane and palm leaves and has a custom made truck with a huge wooden cage at the back—to cart him around; as under a 2002 amendment of India’s Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, it is illegal to make elephants walk more than 20 km at a stretch.  Recently, there was another gory incident in which three women were killed and nearly 20 persons injured  at Rayamangalam Koottumadam Sree Subramaniya Swamy temple near Perumbavoor. There were reports quoting a Veterinarian that the confusion was created by one of the elephants and the tallest tusker Ramachandran, turned rogue and ran amok. 

Now the achievement [the one none would be proud of] is that it becomes perhaps be the first elephant in the country to be charged with murder and released on bail.  Times of India reports that Ramachandran, was released by the Perumbavoor first class judicial magistrate court last week in a case related to the death of three women after he ran amok at a temple festival in Perumbavoor on January 27. The Malayattoor forest division had filed the case against the elephant, temple and devaswom authorities.  The Devaswom which owns 45-year-old Ramachandran, had to submit a bond of Rs 30 lakh and surety of two persons to secure his bail. The elephant was in the custody of forest officials after the attack. As per rules, an elephant should not be included for any parade for 15 days after such attacks.

The court had earlier declined a request from the devaswom authorities for his release to parade him at the Thechikottukavu festival on February 12 after forest officials produced a medical report, claiming Ramachandran is a problematic elephant and he should not be paraded for the next three months. It was at this juncture that the devaswom authorities moved the bail application. As per the Kerala Captive Elephant Maintenance and Management Rules, an elephant that creates a problem is released by submitting an affidavit on a Rs 50 stamp paper, which will contain all details of the animal. But the forest officials were adamant in Ramachandran's case. Devaswom president Vasudevan Kurumboor said they had not sought Ramachandran's release for any festival. Malayattoor divisional forest officer B N Nagaraj said veterinary officials would examine the elephant again after three months and the court would take a decision based on the medical report.

Whether the mammoth giant should be chained and paraded at all is a moot Q…….. once upon a time, huge elephants used to take part in many religious processions, especially in Aiyappa Poojas in the city. I remember that it was during MGR’s regime that elephants were banned partaking in such processions, after a couple of incidents when elephants ran on city roads causing panic to all road users. Elephants are lovable but not when they are chained and treated poorly

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th Mar 2013.

1 comment:

  1. Great post,., mammoth, impressive, tall ... but whether they should be held so captive is real moot point - Archana, one who reads your posts regularly..

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