Justice Markandey Katju-
A pregnant elephant died in Kerala by eating a pineapple containing a firecracker, and immediately some politicians have jumped into the fray trying to communalize the issue, just as some people had tried to communalize the corona pandemic by blaming Tablighi Jamaat. Since elephants are often used in Hindu temples in south India, killing them is being depicted as an anti-Hindu act of Muslims.
Former Union Minister and BJP MP Maneka Gandhi in several, TV interviews indirectly blamed Muslims, allegedly stating that ” Malappuram (which is the only Muslim majority district in Kerala ) is known for its criminal activities, especially towards animals.” She said that every week an elephant dies in Kerala due to beating, and called for the arrest of those responsible, the resignation of the Kerala Minister concerned and sacking the Forest Secretary. She said people of Malappuram were always creating problems.
Not to be outdone, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the Central Govt had taken a serious note of the matter and would leave no stone unturned to catch the culprits.
Other politicians, celebrities like Virat Kohli, Ratan Tata, and animal activists are also lamenting as if heavens have fallen.
But what is the truth? Firstly, the incident happened in Palakkad district, not Malappuram. Secondly, it happened because wild boars often destroy agricultural crops, so these firecrackers are used by farmers in some parts of Kerala to kill such wild boars. The elephant was obviously killed accidentally, not intentionally.
Despite this, some people are trying to give a communal twist to the episode. The reason for doing so is obvious: the Indian economy is in deep recession, many industries have either closed down or have drastically cut down production, leading to record unemployment. The corona lockdown has further sent the economy spiraling downwards, and the Central Govt has no inkling what to do about it.
This is bound to lead to massive public protests and demonstrations, and to deal with these a scapegoat has to be found, just as Hitler found in the Jews, who can be blamed for all the problems. In India this scapegoat are the Muslims. So, Muslims must be blamed for every evil in India.
It is high time that the Indian people see through this charade and expose the communal elements who are trying to divide our people on religious lines for their political benefit. India is a country of great diversity, with numerous religions, castes, lingual and ethnic groups. Only unity among our people and a mighty united people’s struggle is the path to prosperity. Religious and other kinds of discord, instigated by nefarious elements seeking their own benefit, is the surest path to disaster ahead.
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own].