A sustained campaign by animal rights activists has finally led to the arrest of a mahout who was caught on video, cruelly beating an elephant named Jetmalyatha.
The Srivilliputhur Nachiyar Thirukovil temple reportedly kept Jeymalyatha in captivity illegally for more than a decade, as she was never returned to the Assam forest department after her six months’ lease expired.
Two viral videos show the mahouts beating her. In the latest one, apparently recorded in the sanctum sanctorum of the Krishnan Kovil temple, the elephant can be heard crying in pain.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, who had filed the complaint, are now pushing for the temple elephant to be shifted to a sanctuary.
“Elephant Jeymalyatha deserves to be safe at a sanctuary, where she could live free from chains, pain, and fear,” said PETA India Manager of Cruelty Response Projects, Meet Ashar. “Abused elephants commonly attack their mahouts, devotees, and others around them when cruelly kept in captivity. But at a sanctuary, Jeymalyatha could get the mental relief, veterinary care, and company of other elephants she needs.”
The arrest of the mahout comes following the intervention of the Animal Welfare Board of India.
Mahout was arrested and thereafter released on bail.
The first video, which surfaced in February 2021, showed Jeymalyatha being beaten at a rejuvenation camp and led Tamil Nadu’s Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department to suspend the two mahouts involved. The Tamil Nadu forest department booked them under Rule 13 of the Tamil Nadu Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules, 2011, and Section 51 of the WPA. Despite these actions, the second video shows that Jeymalyatha’s abuse continued, at the hands of another mahout, PETA India stated.