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Assam govt sends high-level committee to Tamil Nadu to bring back the elephant Joymala after video of her brutal torture went viral

Joymala was taken on a lease by a temple in Tamil Nadu in 2008 for six months, but she was never returned and the mahouts subjected her to brutal torture for over a decade

Assam govt has formed a four-member high-level committee to bring back Joymala, an elephant originally from Assam, from Tamil Nadu, after a video emerged showing horrific tortures of the elephant in a temple. The committee was formed in a meeting attended by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Environment and Forest Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, after the video of created massive outrage in the state.

The meeting decided to send the four-member team to Tamil Nadu and inspect the condition of Joymala, discuss the matter with the Tamil Nadu government, and pave the way for the return of the elephant to Assam. The team consists of Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Hirdesh Mishra as team leader, Assam Agriculture University professor Dr. Kushal Kumar Sarma, Morigaon SP Aparna Natarajan and Tinsukia District Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Officer Dr. Rupjyoti Kakoti. The team is visiting Tamil Nadu today, 2nd September 2022.

Informing about the decision last night, CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “We are against any form of cruelty to animals. Hence, reports of ill-treatment to Joymala, an elephant from Assam, in Tamil Nadu have pained us.” He informed that the decision to send the 4-member team to Tamil Nadu was taken in a meeting with Forest Department Officials in presence of Environment and Forest Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary.

The matter came to light last week after PETA India raised the issue. The video showing the horrific torture of Joymala, known as Jeymalyatha in Tamil Nadu, was published by Tamil Channel ABP Nadu on June 12 this year, but it went unnoticed at that time. It went viral in the last week of August after PETA India and several netizens started to post it on social media.

On August 26, PETA India shared the video on Twitter, saying that it shows a new mahout using pliers to twist the skin of the illegally held elephant. The video showed the mahout repeatedly beating the elephant with sticks, and stabbing her legs, while the animal screams in pain. It is also alleged that the mahout often hits her eyes with sticks, and her skin is torn with pliers.

The elephant is kept captive at the sanctum sanctorum of the Krishnan Kovil temple in Tamil Nadu, and the video shows that she is chained to the floor of the temple. The elephant is being subject to torture for a long time by different mahouts, and the latest mahouts also continued with that.

A PETA team visited the temple and found that the elephant’s feet had developed infections as she is kept on the concrete floor most of the time. They submitted a veterinary inspection report to the Forest Department Officials in Tamil Nadu and Assam. Joymala was originally kept in Srivilliputhur Nachiyar Thirukovil temple for over a decade and was shifted to nearby Krishnan Kovil temple recently.

Another video of torture of the elephant emerged in 2021 also, which showed Joymala being beaten at a rejuvenation camp. The elephant was in the custody of Andal Temple in Srivilliputhur at that time.

After that incident last year, the mahout and his assistant were suspended by Tamil Nadu’s Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department and they were arrested by the police. But even after their arrest, subsequent mahouts continued the torture of the elephant for some reason.

After the recent video of torture emerged and visiting the temple, PETA India filed a complaint, after which the Animal Welfare Board of India intervened in the matter and an FIR was filed under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Moreover, a wildlife offence report under the Wild Life (Protection) Act (WPA), 1972, along with the Tamil Nadu Captive Elephant (Management and Maintenance) Rules, 2011, was reportedly registered by the Srivilliputhur Forest Range in July.

The matter triggered massive outrage in Assam after journalist Nandan Pratim Sharma Bordoloi posted the ABP Nadu video on August 28, and then posted several tweets requesting Assam govt to rescue the elephant from Tamil Nadu.

A photo of the pachyderm showed large red-purple patches on the entire body, a clear sign of brutal torture.

The elephant was taken to Tamil Nadu from Kakopathar in Assam 13 years ago in 2008, and photos at that time show she was completely healthy and fit. She was owned by one Girin Mohan, and she was leased by a temple in Tamil Nadu for six months after completing the necessary formalities. However, Joymala was never returned to Assam as per the agreement, and she started receiving brutal torture from her handlers.

The original owners in Kakopathar in Assam broke down after seeing the videos of the elephant. A woman in the household said that she could recognise the elephant in the visuals, and demanded that she should be brought back.

She said that the elephant was borrowed by a temple from them in 2008, but she was never returned.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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