Dead Elephant Ploy Maneka’s Gift to Anti-Muslim Media

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The carcass of a wild elephant is retrieved after it died due to injuries caused when it ate a pineapple filled with firecrackers on May 27, 2020 in Kerala. — AFP

Syed Ali Mujtaba | Clarion India

ANTI-MUSLIM propaganda refuses to die down in India. After the Tablighi Jamaat, Muslims of Malappuram district of Kerala have become the target of communal propaganda for purportedly killing a pregnant elephant apparently died of eating pineapple laced with explosives.

According to forest officials, the wild elephant had left the forests of the Silent Valley in Palakkad district and wandered into the nearby village in search of food and reached Mannarkkad, where it found the cracker-stuffed pineapple. When the pachyderm consumed the pineapple, an explosion stuffed in it went off badly injuring her. The elephant was left in searing pain and eventually died standing in a river.

The tragic incident actually happened in Mannarkkad, in Palakkad district and not in Muslim majority Malappuram district which actually is about 54 Kms from Mannarkkad.

But a BJP leader and the ‘godi media’ were prompt to link the incident to the Muslim majority Malappuram district. The entire event was communalised with thousands of Hindu zealots using their twitter handles to spread Islamophobia. Once again an anti Tablighi Jamaat-like atmosphere was created in the country.

The anti-Muslim canard owes it to the BJP MP and former Union minister, Maneka Gandhi, who made a nasty comment on her twitter handle @Manekagandhibjp about the incident. Holding the entire Muslim population of the Malappuram district responsible for the animal’s death, she tried to vilify the community.

“Mallapuram is known for its intense criminal activity especially with regards to animals. No action has ever been taken against a single poacher or wildlife killers, so they keep doing it. I can only suggest that you call/mail and ask for action”, she commented on the elephant’s death in a tweet.

Later, Maneka Gandhi repeated the same lines while talking to the News agency, Asia News International (ANI). She portrayed Malappuram as India’s most violent district. “It is a murder, Malappuram is famous for such incidents, and it’s India’s most violent district. For instance, they throw poison on roads so that 300-400 birds & dogs die at one time,” she told ANI.

Maneka’s comment has a political perspective. The BJP is gleefully carrying on its head this burden of Nehru dynasty which has no relevance to BJP politics. So, her comment is sure to turn the heads of her BJP and RSS masters. They would recognise her hidden talent and reward her for the same. This lie of the former BJP MP was to bell the Muslim cat and hog the limelight.

As soon as Meneka Gandhi’s comment was made public, the “Godi media” including Times Now, Republic TV, Zee News, India TV, Dainik Jagaran, Hindustan Times, News18, First Post as well as many Hindi and English news outlets lapped it up without verifying geographic location of the incident.

To add spice to the story, the Godi media started demographically profiling the Muslim dominated Malappuram district. What it obliquely pointed was the Muslim majority district is a thorn in India’s Hindu identity. This is not the first time the media did this. Some time back, it projected Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh as a terror factory and a center of Jamaat-e Islami.

The other aspect of media’s ingenuity was that like the Palghar episode where Sonia Gandhi’s name was dragged into the killing of two Sadhus to create a ruckus, similarly the media lapped up at the Maneka Gandhi’s comment to tarnish the image of Muslims. Like lynch mob, the anti-Muslim anti-Islam hate media factories targeted an entire community.

A Twitter handle named ‘Sumit for You’ with more than a lakh followers said, “Muslims in Kerala killing elephants. They are jealous of elephants now. Shame Malappuram, the jihadi ISIS…”

Another tweet was: “Indian Izlamists have a particular hatred for elephant, cows, and monkeys because these are symbols of Hindu faith system. The brutal murder of the pregnant elephant in Kerala’s Muslim majority Malappuram district is perhaps part of this same hateful mindset.”

The Malappuram district, since its inception, has been vulnerable to xenophobic, Islamophobic remarks, rants, of the Sangh Parivar.   The demographic features of Malappuram make it seductive for anti- Islam and anti-Muslim propaganda. And now, when Maneka Gandhi, without a bit of shame, propagated a lie, the fault lines of the district’s demographic profile got criminalised.

Nevertheless, the killing of the elephant is an inexcusable offence, and the killers must be punished. But it is also important to know the whole gambit of the news without anti-Muslim anti-Islam propaganda.

There is no mention in the media discourse of the nature verses human conflict going on in the Western Ghats. Animals come out of their natural habitat in search of food as it happened in this elephant’s case while humans eager to save their food from being poached devise ways to protect them from the animals. They use barbed wires and other such things to fence and protect their morsel from being eaten by the beasts. This dimension of animal verses human conflict has never been highlighted in this elephant killing episode.

Animal rights activists like Maneka Gandhi wore filtered glasses to start anti-Muslim, anti- Islam rants without understanding the nuances of the human relationship with the nature in this part of the world.

Now, without sounding unsympathetic to the animal, a counter to the fuss made about the pregnancy of the elephant by raising the question, did the elephant killers had any clue to the beast’s body till its autopsy report was made known.

Now, if this is linked to the pregnancy of Jamia Millia Islamia student, Safoora Zargar, who was arrested for her role in leading the anti-CAA protest, the question is where would be the compassion as it is in the case of this elephant. What comes out clearly from this story is that human compassion for the fellow humans is overlooked and compassion for a beast is flowing.

Last but not the least, some Indian leaders and the media are mountain blind. They have no clue to the myriad problems of the Silent Valley of the Western Ghats. What they like to see is a slightest opportunity where they could start anti-Muslim anti-Islam propaganda so that they can train their guns on both.

The tailpiece is: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has assured strict action would be taken against those involved in the killing of the pregnant elephant in Kerala and culprits will be brought to justice.

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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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