In a major breakthrough in the case relating to the death of a pregnant wild elephant in Kerala, one person was arrested on Friday and as per his statement, a potassium nitrate filled coconut that was left on the boundary of a rubber plantation, on the forest fringe that the elephant had accidentally consumed lead to the injury and its subsequent death.
According to the police, a hunt is on for two more absconding accused.
The arrested accused, Wilson, who was arrested this morning, is a rubber tapper, the sources said.
“The workers do this for hunting wild boars for meat and the elephant had accidentally come across the bait,” Manarkkad Range forest officer Ashique Ali U, told PTI.
Earlier, it was suspected that the 15-year-old elephant might have consumed a pineapple filled with powerful firecrackers that exploded in its mouth in the Silent Valley forest.
It died in Velliyar River a week later on May 27.
There are two more accused in the case and they would be nabbed soon, Palakkad SP G Siva Vikram told PTI.
State Forest Minister K. Raju had earlier said there were more than one accused in the case. The Kerala Forest Department in a tweet said: “KFD has zeroed on the culprits and recorded the first arrest in the wild elephant death case.”
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had assured stern action against those responsible for the incident after a social media storm erupted over the brutality meted out to the elephant.
Reacting to the incident, Union Environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar had said it was not in Indian culture to feed firecrackers and kill and that government would not leave any stone unturned to bring the culprit to book.
As per a preliminary post-mortem report, the animal had major wounds in its oral cavity, most likely following an explosive blast due to which she could not eat for nearly two weeks leading to her collapse in a river and drowning.
Drowning followed by inhalation of water leading to lung failure was the immediate cause of the animal’s death, said the report prepared on May 28, a day after the elephant died.
Meanwhile, the Kerala police have registered a case against BJP MP Maneka Gandhi for her alleged provocative remarks in connection with the death of the elephant.
The case was registered under IPC section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with the intent to cause riot) on the basis of a complaint by a person named Jaleel stating that the BJP leader had levelled baseless allegations against the people of the district, Malappuram district police chief Abdul Karim U said.
(With inputs from agencies.)