Devasthan Management Committee, which manages the famous Jyotiba temple in Kolhapur, today denied that elephant Sunder was tortured and starved during the last six years while it was under the temple's care, as alleged by NGO PETA.
An affidavit filed by Rajaram Mane, president of the temple trust, denied that Sunder was chained at the temple and the mahout used a spiked chain and oral administration of tobacco to control him.
"It is incorrect to state that Sunder was denied adequate food, sufficient water and daily walks. The elephant was never controlled by beating or prodded and gouged in sensitive areas behind knees and ears with ankush," the affidavit said.
The management committee of the temple, by a resolution passed on December 26, 2013, gifted Sunder to Warna Sahakari Dudh Utpadan Society. Accordingly, it has been shifted to the company premises where it walks in open air, said the affidavit.
Sunder's health is in good state and two mahouts have been appointed in addition to a veterinary doctor to provide medicines and any other help required by the pachyderm.
The affidavit stated that regular check-ups by wildlife experts were being carried out for the betterment of the animal.
The committee sought dismissal of People for Ethical Treatment to Animals' (PETA) petition.
Advocate J S Saluja appearing for the state government informed the court that a two-member panel comprising a local veterinarian from Kolhapur Dr S Bhatt and wildlife expert Ajay Desai examined Sunder On January 18 and opined that it would not be possible to move the elephant in the advanced stage of Musth condition which it is in.
PETA filed a petition in the Bombay High court through its attorney Dr Manilal Valliyate.