GUWAHATI: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, through a recent order, has been given approval by the Gauhati High Court, to intervene in the matter related to the return of the female captive elephant, Joymala, from Tamil Nadu to Assam, in which the Assam forest department is seeking directions from the court.
PETA had earlier, in two videos, highlighted the plight of the elephant originally sent from Assam to a temple in Tamil Nadu in 2011. The videos showing the ill-treatment meted out to Joymala had gone viral and touched the hearts of people everywhere.
The clamour for bringing back Joymala had been increasing by the way, prompting the Assam government to devise ways to bring back Joymala, including intervention by the Gauhati High Court. Joymala was leased out from Assam to a temple in the southern state and has been in the temple's custody even after the lapse of the lease period.
In September, the state government had moved the HC, seeking directions from it for bringing back the ill- treated elephant. PETA then sought to intervene in the matter by becoming a party in the case.
While hearing an interlocutory application (civil) filed by PETA India on November 17, Justice Michael Zothankhuma said that as there is no objection from the other side, 'the applicant is impleaded as respondent.' PETA is now a party in the case which will be heard by the court in December.
Earlier, on November 15, PETA India had alleged that its video evidence, gathered at the end of October and the first half of November, showed Joymala being shackled and made to live on a hard-concrete floor contrary to usual practices and kept in complete isolation from others of her kind. The elephant was also shown being controlled with weapons like iron rods and instruments of torture, like pliers.
Radhika Suryavanshi, PETA-India's campaigns manager, said that their findings refute the claims that Joymala was 'absolutely doing good', which was made by the Tamil Nadu Hindu religious and charitable endowments department
A public relations video in September, which the department had tweeted showing Joymala walking unchained and with access to a pool, apparently happy, was not reflective of the true picture, said PETA. This was followed by PETA-India's expose showing deep wound marks on the elephant's legs, which the organisation said was indicative of long-term chaining and beatings.
PETA-India also said despite complaints registered by Srivilliputhur Forest Range against the mahouts for wildlife offence under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, no action has been taken against the abusers of Joymala. "The mahouts also violated the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960," Suryavanshi said.
Now PETA is awaiting the outcome of the Gauhati HC case, which will be up for hearing in December.