Protests erupt after elderly woman killed by elephant

Thirty congress activists, alongside the two senior leaders, were detained on serious charges, including disrespecting the deceased’s remains and assaulting a hospital. The incident occurred when Indira Ramakrishnan (65), a resident of Kanjiraveli, was fatally trampled by an elephant in Idukki.

| Updated: 05 March, 2024 11:28 am IST
An elderly woman died in Idukki due to an elephant attack on Monday

ERNAKULAM: Following the tragic death of an elderly woman in Idukki due to an elephant attack on Monday, a significant protest erupted, resulting in the arrest of two Congress leaders, Mathew Kuzhalnadan, MLA from Muvattupuzha, and Mohammed Shiyaz, Ernakulam DCC president, late into the night. They were apprehended for allegedly attempting to incite the crowd, which had turned violent in response to the wild animal attack.

Thirty congress activists, alongside the two senior leaders, were detained on serious charges, including disrespecting the deceased’s remains and assaulting a hospital. The incident occurred when Indira Ramakrishnan (65), a resident of Kanjiraveli, was fatally trampled by an elephant in Idukki.

The event sparked widespread protests among the public and various political factions across central Kerala, with demonstrators accusing the government, particularly the wildlife department, of inadequately addressing the ongoing human-animal conflict.

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“The state government has utterly failed in addressing this issue. We demand the resignation of Forest Minister AK Shasheendran and immediate action to resolve this crisis,” stated VD Satheeshan, the leader of the opposition and a senior Congress member.

Police resorted to force to disperse the protesters and relocate the mobile mortuary unit to an ambulance. Despite these measures, Congress activists persisted with their protests well into the night in several locations across the state.

Meanwhile, Forest Minister A K Saseendran is slated to hold emergency discussions with his counterparts from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to address the escalating crisis. Kerala has witnessed a surge in incidents of human-wildlife conflict, resulting in frequent attacks on civilians and widespread property damage.

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The recent fatality marks the fourth such incident in the state within two months. With the Lok Sabha elections looming, the issue of human-animal conflict is poised to dominate the election discourse in approximately 5 to 6 constituencies, particularly in central and northern Kerala, where residents in forest-bordering areas are grappling with heightened safety concerns.

“Both the state and central governments have failed miserably in curbing the menace of wild animal attacks on humans. It is appalling that our lawmakers have not even raised this issue in parliament,” remarked Paul Mathew, coordinator of the Kerala Independent Farmers Association (KIFA).

The recurring incidents of animal attacks have instilled widespread panic and fear among residents residing in forest fringe areas.

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