KOCHI: The forest department has initiated steps to cancel the licence of four mahouts of the Guruvayur Devaswom for brutally torturing two captive elephants. A video of the mahouts torturing the elephants — Guvurayur Krishna and Junior Kesavan — went viral on Thursday, triggering outrage.
The Kerala High Court initiated a suo motu case in connection with the incident and sought a report from the forest department. The Guruvayur Devaswom Board has ordered an inquiry and said stringent action will be taken against all involved.
Guruvayur Krishna was donated by former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa during her visit to the temple on July 2, 2001, to fulfil a pre-election vow.
In the video, the mahouts are seen beating the elephants inside the Guruvayur elephant camp.
Heritage Animal Task Force secretary V K Venkitachalam said the video circulating on social media is an edited one. Venkitachalam said he has handed over the original video to the forest department. Forest Minister A K Saseendran said he has sought a report on the incident from the chief wildlife warden. “The forest department has booked two cases in connection with it,” he said.
“The four mahouts have been identified as Sarath, handler of Guruvayur Krishna, and Vasu, Suresh Babu and Mohanan, mahouts of Junior Kesavan. Chief Wildlife Warden D Jayaprasad has directed us to initiate stringent action against the mahouts,” said Thrissur Assistant conservator of forest B Sajeesh Kumar.
‘Steps taken to cancel licence of mahouts’
“We have directed Guruvayur Devaswom administrator to dismiss the mahouts. We have also booked two cases against them under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The High Court has taken a serious note of the incident and initiated suo motu proceedings. We have submitted a preliminary report to the Advocate General, which will be presented before the court,” said Sajeesh Kumar.
Thrissur forest range officer Renjith Kumar said steps have been taken to cancel the licence of the mahouts.
Guruvayur Devaswom Board chairman V K Vijayan said the devaswom deputy administrator has been instructed to conduct an inquiry and submit a report immediately. “Based on it, action will be taken against all involved. The video circulating now is an edited one and we doubt it was taken some two months ago. We are against the torture of elephants and will not justify the act. The visuals are disturbing but we doubt it has been edited to make it sensational,” said Vijayan.
“The elephants have been taken out for a temple festival and I have directed the mahouts to bring them back immediately. Though action has been taken against the mahouts, we cannot dismiss them from service as no other person can take care of the elephants,” he added.