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Protest in Kerala's Idukki over capture of rice eating tusker Arikomban

Protests broke out in several parts of Kerala with locals taking to the roads and blocking traffic, aggrieved over the Kerala High Court's decision not to permit capture of 'Arikomban', a wild tusker


Photo: ANI Twitter

Press Trust of India Idukki (Kerala)

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Protests broke out in several parts of this high range district on Thursday with locals taking to the roads and blocking traffic, aggrieved over the Kerala High Court's decision not to permit capture of 'Arikomban', a wild tusker, for the time being.
The High Court had on Wednesday constituted a five-member expert committee to take a decision on what action should be taken with regard to Arikomban, so named as it raids ration shops and houses for rice.
The panel has to communicate its decision to the court by April 5, till when capture of the elephant has been prohibited.
The court only permitted tranquilising and radio collaring of the tusker if it forayed into inhabited areas despite the best efforts of the forest and wildlife personnel to deter it from doing so.
Protesting against the court's decision, people of several panchayats of the district came out onto the roads and blocked traffic in some areas, according to TV visuals.
The protesting public, including women and children, demanded that the elephant be removed from the area.
Children told a TV channel that they were afraid to go to school worried that the elephant might attack their bus.
Some also said that beside Arikomban, there were a couple of other elephants too which were a nuisance and threat to them and sought that those pachyderms be also removed.
Meanwhile, Kerala Forests Minister A K Saseendran said the court order "has only served to complicate matters further".
Speaking to media, Saseendran said that the government will place the plight of the people living there before the expert committee and attempt to convince them to visit the area.
"We can go in for appeal only after a final decision is taken by the court," he said.
On assuaging the concerns and fears of the people affected by the tusker, the minister said that whatever steps have to be taken under the law, the government will take them.
The High Court had said that the interests of justice would require avoiding "quick-fix knee-jerk actions" and ascertain the views of experts regarding the best steps to balance the conflicting interests of humans and animals in given situations and prevent the same from recurring in future.
After news of the verdict spread, local residents of Chinnakanal and nearby places in Idukki district expressed disappointment regarding it and said they would hold protests till the tusker was removed from there.
They told scribes that they would not allow the forest and wildlife officials as well as the Kumki elephants, used for trapping wild pachyderms, to leave the area till Arikomban is removed from there.
The people asked those advocating the elephant's interests to come there and stay in the area for a night with their families to understand the plight of the local residents.
The court had last week stayed the state government's order to tranquilise and capture Arikomban till March 29.
The court's order had come on a PIL moved by two animal rights groups -- People for Animals (PFA), Trivandum Chapter and the Walking Eye Foundation for Animal Advocacy.
The petitioner organisations have claimed in their plea that the order to tranquilise and capture the tusker was "illegal and unscientific".
The petitioners' have urged the court to issue an order directing the state government and its forest department to translocate and rehabilitate Arikomban to an alternative deep forest.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Mar 30 2023 | 1:41 PM IST

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