"3 Suspects," Says Kerala Chief Minister On Killing Of Pregnant Elephant: 10 Points

The police and forest departments will jointly investigate the incident. We will do everything possible to bring the culprits to justice," Pinarayi Vijayan said.

Photos shared on social media showed the elephant standing in the river with her mouth, trunk in water

Thiruvananthapuram: Three suspects have been identified in investigations into the death of a pregnant elephant who died due to severe mouth injuries caused by crackers, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said today. "Justice will prevail," Mr Vijayan promised in tweets responding to a tide of anger and grief after visuals of the elephant, dead in a river, emerged in a forest officer's post earlier this week. Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had also tweeted earlier today of a central investigation.

Here is the 10 latest developments in this big story:

  1. "In a tragic incident in Palakkad district, a pregnant elephant has lost its life. Many of you have reached out to us. We want to assure you that your concerns will not go in vain," said the Chief Minister. "An investigation is underway, focusing on three suspects... We will do everything possible to bring the culprits to justice," Mr Vijayan tweeted.

  2. The wild elephant strayed into a village near Silent Valley National Park in Palakkad last month and is suspected to have eaten fruit or food stuffed with firecrackers. It exploded in the elephant's mouth and it walked for days in agony before it went into a river and died standing on May 27.

  3. Villagers in the region often use firecrackers or explosives stuffed in food to protect their fields from wild animals like boar and the horrific practice has been widely condemned.

  4. Photos shared on social media showed the elephant standing in the river with her mouth and trunk in water, perhaps for some relief from what can only be imagined as excruciating pain. 

  5. The animal may have suffered the injury 20 days ago and had starved since, officials guessed from her shrunken form.

  6. Mohan Krishnan, a Malappuram-based forest officer who led attempts to rescue the elephant, first shared the photos in an emotional Facebook post. "When we saw her she was standing in the river, with her head dipped in the water. She had a sixth sense that she was going to die. She took the Jalasamadhi in the river in a standing position," wrote Mr Krishnan. "She didn't harm a single human being even when she ran in searing pain in the streets of the village."

  7. Earlier today, Prakash Javadekar said the government had taken "very serious note" of the elephant's killing. "We will not leave any stone unturned to investigate properly and nab the culprit(s). This is not an Indian culture to feed fire crackers and kill," the minister tweeted.

  8. Mr Javadekar's tweet said the incident took place in Malappuram district of Kerala; the elephant died in the neighbouring Palakkad. Initial reports on the elephant's killing, including NDTV's, incorrectly said the incident took place in Malappuram. The error was corrected in subsequent reports.

  9. "There is a targeted campaign against Kerala, Malappuram. People including Union Ministers involved in campaign against Kerala. If it was a misconception, they would've corrected it. But the fact that they are not correcting, shows its deliberate," the Chief Minister tweeted. He said some had "tried to import bigotry into the narrative. Wrong priorities."

  10. The Chief Minister said his government's investigation would also try to address the increased instances of human-wildlife conflict. "Climate change could be adversely affecting both the local communities and animals," he tweeted.