In perhaps a development of ‘mammoth’ proportions, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday issued directions to a petitioner, mahout, asking him to cooperate with the Madurai police and help them trace an elephant, which he allegedly stole and sold to a jeweller in Kerala.
The jumbo trouble surfaced after L Indira (38), a resident of South Veli Street in Madurai filed a complaint with the Thideer Nagar Police, accusing V Shaji (44) of Kollam, Kerala, of ‘stealing’ her 28-year-old female elephant. Indira reportedly was gifted the elephant, christened ‘Malachi’, by her friend who lived in the Andamans.
After being transported to Madurai, Malachi reportedly behaved in an “abnormal manner,” prompting Indira to seek the aid of Shaji, a Kerala-based mahout. Relying on Shaji’s experience in training jumbos, Indira reportedly handed over Malachi to his care and also paid him an amount of `1 lakh.
After a lapse of six months, Indira became suspicious and inquired with Shaji about her elephant. In August 2011, Indira visited Shaji’s house in Kerala. Shaji then promised her that he would transport the jumbo back to Madurai in two months. But, later Indira came to know that Shaji sold her elephant to Sukumaran, a jeweller based in Kollam district, Kerala.
Indira subsequently approached a Judicial Court in Madurai and on the court’s directions, police registered an FIR, naming Shaji as the first accused and Sukumaran as the second accused.
In his subsequent application for anticipatory bail, Shaji claimed that he bought the elephant from Indira in exchange of another elephant, apart from paying `5 lakh to her. Indira, who was in the business of selling elephants, wanted to sell Malachi to another person and asked Shaji to return the elephant, Shaji claimed.
Sukumaran was granted anticipatory bail by the HC in April 2012. Justice R S Ramanathan adjourned the case to July 9, with directions to police not to arrest Shaji until then.
The judge also asked Shaji to cooperate with police to trace the jumbo.