Posts lamenting the loss of the life of a pregnant elephant and her unborn calf in a heart-wrenching incident that unfolded in Kerala, have flooded the social media. Be it on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or any other platform, netizens and celebrities raised their voices to condemn the incident. However, the initial reports by the media claimed that the elephant had died in Malappuram district of Kerala instead of Palakkad district. These included prominent media websites like NDTV, India TV, Zee TV , Republic and also Malayala Manorama’s English website. Below are the screenshots and the archived links of the initial reports.
|Republic TV||India TV|
Some of the media websites updated their articles after it was revealed that the incident actually took place in the forests of Mannarkkad in Palakkad district. But based on these initial reports, Islamophobic posts mushroomed on social media as Malappuram district of Kerala is a Muslim predominant district. After believing that this unfortunate incident took place in Malappuram, posts claiming the act was committed by Muslims of Malappuram began to appear. While some simply pointed out that Malappuram was a Muslim majority district like this post given below:
Others vehemently blamed the Muslim community for the incident. Following are some of the examples of the Islamophobic posts related to the incident propagated on social media:
BJP MP from Sultanpur and animal rights advocate Maneka Gandhi claimed that Malappuram is the most ‘violent district’ in the country and also questioned Rahul Gandhi about the incident as some areas of Malappuram district are a part of Waynad Lok Sabha constituency which he represents.
#WATCH Forest Secretary should be removed, the minister (for wildlife protection), if he has any sense, should resign. Rahul Gandhi is from that area, why has he not taken action? : Maneka Gandhi on elephant’s death in Malappuram, Kerala after being fed cracker-stuffed pineapple pic.twitter.com/DmRYa6lq36— ANI (@ANI) June 3, 2020
After realizing that the Pregnant elephant died in Palakkad and not in Malappuram, many media websites like NDTV and Manorama updated their articles. The screenshots of their corrected articles can be seen below:
The Kerala Forest Department put out the following tweet stating that the media reports claiming the pregnant elephant died in Malappuram are incorrect and the incident actually took place in Palakkad.
KFD wants to clarify that the place where the unfortunate incident took place falls in Palakkad district, and not in Malappuram district as reported in some sections of the media.— Kerala Forest Department (@ForestKerala) June 4, 2020
We spoke to the Palakkad District Forest Officer, Mr. Narendra Nath Veluri, who told us that, “The media reports claiming that the incident took place in Malappuram are false. The incident took place here in Mannarkkad in Palakkad district. The forest area, where the incident took place also falls under the jurisdiction of Palakkad.” He also added that, “The cause of the incident is being investigated by both the Forest department and the State Police. It is possible that some people might have stuffed the pineapple with explosives to hunt wild boars, but unfortunately it was picked up by the pregnant elephant.”
The Pregnant elephant died in Mannarkkad forest in Palakkad district and not in Malappuram as claimed in the initial media reports. Many websites have corrected their articles after the fact came to light. However, some social media users blamed Muslims for the incident, since Malappuram is a Muslim majority district. Thus giving a communal angle to the unfortunate incident.
Title:Media Misreports the tragic Death of a Pregnant Elephant in Malappuram instead of Palakkad; Triggers Islamophobic Posts On Social Media…Fact Check By: Harish Nair