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Elephant killing in Kerala has nothing to do with Malappuram Muslims

The tragic and heart wrenching incident actually happened in Mannarkkad, in Palakkad district and not in Muslim majority Malappuram

Thursday June 4, 2020 7:14 PM, Syed Ali Mujtaba, ummid.com

Malappuram Elephant Death

Anti-Muslim propaganda fails to die in India. After the Tabligi Jamaat now Muslims of Malappuram district of Kerala are being targeted for killing of a pregnant elephant that was apparently done to death by eating pineapple laced with explosives.

According to forest officials, the wild elephant had left the forests of the Silent Valley in Palakkad district and wandered into the nearby village in search of food and reached Mannarkkad, where it found the cracker-stuffed pineapple. When the elephant ate the pineapple, an explosion took place that badly hurt her as it suffered several injuries. The elephant was left in searing pain and eventually had died standing in a river.

The tragic and heart wrenching incident actually happened in Mannarkkad, in Palakkad district and not in Muslim majority Malappuram district which actually is about 54 Kms from Mannarkkad.

Communalisation of the incident

But the BJP leaders and the ‘Godi media’ linked the incident with the Muslim majority district of Malappuram and the whole event is communalized on anti-Muslim lines. Thousands of Hindu zealots are using their twitter handles to spread Islamophobia and once again the anti-Tabligi Jamaat atmosphere is built in the country.

The anti-Muslim canard actually started with the BJP MP and former Union Minister Maneka Gandhi's comment on her twitter handle @Manekagandhibjp about this incident. She vilified the entire Muslim population of the Malappuram district, holding them responsible for the animal’s death.

“Mallapuram is known for its intense criminal activity especially with regards to animals. No action has ever been taken against a single poacher or wildlife killers, so they keep doing it. I can only suggest that you call/mail and ask for action”, Maneka Gandhi is reported to have commented on the elephant’s death.

'India’s most violent district'

Later, Maneka Gandhi repeated the same lines while talking to the News agency, Asia News International (ANI). She portrayed Malappuram, a district which has Muslim majority, as India’s most violent district.

“It is a murder, Malappuram is famous for such incidents, and it’s India's most violent district. For instance, they throw poison on roads so that 300-400 birds and dogs die at one time,” she told ANI.

Manka Gandhi’s comment had a political perspective. The BJP is gleefully caring on its head this burden of Nehru dynasty that has no relevance to BJP politics. So her comment has turned heads of BJP and RSS masters that they recognize her hidden talents and get reward for the same. This lie of the former BJP MP was to bell the Muslim cat and by doing so, gain limelight.

'A thorn in India’s Hindu identity'

As soon as Meneka Gandhi’s comment was made public, the “Godi Media” as they are called - Times Now, Republic TV, Zee News, India TV, Dainik Jagaran, Hindustan Times, News18, First Post, and many Hindi and English news outlets, lapped it up, without verifying physical location of the incident.

To add juice to the story, the Godi media started giving the demography profile of Muslim dominated Malappuram district. What it obliquely pointed was Muslim majority Malappuram district is a thorn in India’s Hindu identity. This was not a first time ‘Godi media’ did such place profiling. Some time back it haunted Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh as terror factory and a center of Jamat Islami.

The other aspect of ‘Godi media’s’ ingenuity was that like the Palhghar news where two Sadhu’s were killed by tribals, Sonia Gandhi was dragged into news and a ruckus was created. Similarly, media lapped the Maneka Gandhi’s comment and linked it to the Muslims of Malappuram and held them responsible for the elephant killing. Like lynch mob, the anti-Muslims, anti-Islam hate media factories targeted an entire community for the consolidation of Hindu votes.

'Symbols of Hindu faith system'

A Twitter handle named ‘Sumit for You’ which has more than one lakh followers said, “Muslims in Kerala killing elephants. They are jealous of elephants now. Shame Malappuram, the jihadi ISIS…”

Another tweet was, "Indian Izlamists have a particular hatred for elephant, cows, and monkeys because these are symbols of Hindu faith system. The brutal murder of the pregnant elephant in Kerala's Muslim majority Malappuram district is perhaps part of this same hateful mindset."

Malappuram has always been a target

The Malappuram district since its inception has been vulnerable to xenophobic, Islamophobic remarks, rants, by the Sangh Parivar. The demographic features of Malappuram make it a seductive place for anti-Islam and anti-Muslim propaganda. And now when Maneka Gandhi, without a bit of shame, propagated a lie, the fault-lines of Malappuram district’s demographic profile got criminalized.

Notwithstanding, the killing of the elephant is inexcusable offence, and the killers must be punished but it is also important to know the whole gambit of the news without anti-Muslim anti-Islam propaganda.

Nature vs human conflict

There is no mention in the media discourse on the nature verses human conflict going on in the Western Ghats. Animals come out from their natural habitats, in search of food as happened in this elephant’s case, while the human species to save their food from being poached, devise ways to protect them from the animals. They use electrical barbed wires and other such things to fence and protect their morsel from being eaten by the beasts. This dimension of nature verses human conflict has never been highlighted in this elephant killing.

The animal right activist like Maneka Gandhi and ‘Godi Media’ wore filtered glasses and started anti-Muslim, anti- Islam rants without understanding the delicate nuances of the human relationship with the nature in this part of the world.

A counter to the communal narrative

Now without sounding dis-compassionate towards animal, a counter to the fuss made about the pregnancy of the elephant by raising the question, did the elephant killers had any clue of the beast body till the autopsy was known.

Now, if this is linked to the pregnancy of Jamia Millia Islamia student, Safoora Zargar, who was arrested for allegedly leading the anti-CAA protests. The question is where is the compassion for her as we see in the case of this elephant? What comes out clearly from this story is that human compassion for a fellow human is overlooked and compassion for a beast of burden is oozes out.

Last but not the least, some Indian leaders and media are mountain blind. They have no clue of the myriad problems of the Silent Valley in the Western Ghats. What they like to see is find a slightest opportunity and start anti-Muslim, anti-Islam propaganda so that they can blindly train their guns against both.

The tail piece is Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said strict action will be taken against those involved in the killing of the pregnant elephant in Kerala and culprits will be brought to justice.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com.]

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