Amicus curiae finds serious lapses in inspection of tuskers before Thrissur pooram

The amicus curiae also recommended that the forest department should conduct regular inspection of captive elephants’ records, at least once every two weeks during the festival season.
An elephant moving through a cheering crowd at Thrissur Pooram.
An elephant moving through a cheering crowd at Thrissur Pooram. Photo| | A Sanesh

KOCHI: The amicus curiae appointed by the Kerala High Court to oversee the verification process and issuance of fitness certificates for elephants paraded for Thrissur Pooram reported that the tuskers were brought without necessary documentation such as work register, movement register, and food register which should have been reviewed by forest officials before issuing fitness certificates.

The report highlighted that the forest department can verify the details of an elephant’s travel only if the movement register is provided during inspection. Similarly, officials from the animal husbandry department must record the details of the first and second mahouts, including their ages, in the register for inspection.

The amicus curiae recommended that the forest department should provide an inspection register to elephant owners, including medical certificates and other relevant documents. The register would allow the department to verify any past medical treatments and ensure that the movement of the elephant, its food pattern and parades are updated during the elephant’s transportation.

The amicus curiae also recommended that the forest department should conduct regular inspection of captive elephants’ records, at least once every two weeks during the festival season.

T C Suresh Menon, the amicus curiae, and Advocate Sandhesh Raja K were present on-site as per the High Court’s order. They observed that the inspection of elephants on the Paramekkavu temple premises began around 4 pm. The list of elephants to be paraded by the devaswoms changed three times, with 40 elephants inspected from Paramekkavu Devaswom and 44 from Thiruvambady Devaswom.

During the inspection, they found that Pambady Sundaran had a serious wound on its right rear side with blood oozing out and an opaque left eye, yet it was cleared for the parade. Tusker Vyloor Parameswaran had a mal-united left forearm, causing difficulty in walking, but it was also cleared. Tusker Ezhuthurakka Gangaprasad had wounds on his hind legs, yet it was also cleared for the parade.

The report stated that more than 28 elephants were tethered in a confined space with little room for movement. While inspecting three elephants in the eastern corner of the ground, mahouts of other elephants withdrew from the area.

The absence of the animal husbandry department doctor and the forest department’s advice that it was unsafe to stay there prompted the officials to escort the amicus curiae team out of the area.

Paramekkavu Devaswom refused to cooperate, says amicus curiae

The amicus curiae has criticised the Paramekkavu Devaswom in a report amid the ongoing controversy surrounding the management of Thrissur Pooram. The report stated that Rajesh, the secretary of Paramekkavu Devaswom, harshly criticised the High Court during a meeting, accusing it of interfering in the conduct of Thrissur Pooram and the inspection and parading of elephants. Rajesh said that the devaswom would not assist authorities in implementing distance rules for parading elephants, taking a stance contrary to the position submitted by Paramekkavu Devaswom’s counsel.

According to amicus curiae, Rajesh’s behavior and statements during the meeting were described as threatening, as he declared that the High Court could pass any orders it wanted, but he would not comply with them.

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