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Elephantine row: Tusker allowed at Thrissur Pooram fest

Saturday - May 11, 2019 5:24 pm , Category : ART & LITERATURE
Thrissur (Kerala), May 11 (IANS) It had all the ingredients of a suspense thriller with even the Kerala High Court intervening.
Finally, after an early morning medical check-up, 'Thechikottukavu Ramachandran', 54-year-old tusker, on Saturday was cleared to symbolically push open the southern entrance of Thrissur's Vadakkumnathan temple on Sunday morning to signal the start of the 'Thrissur Pooram' festivities.
The clearance was given by Thrissur district collector T.V. Anupama after going through the medical report, submitted to her by a team of three veterinarians who examined the tusker.
According to the order, the tusker will arrive at the temple premises and push open the temple door as part of the rituals. It will stay at the premises for one hour (9.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.) and has to be accompanied by four mahouts. The tusker will stand in a 10-metre barricaded area and people would be kept away from him.
With this the issue has been resolved. The Elephant Owners' Federation has also withdrawn its decision to not allow their elephants take part in festivities.
Things came to a head on May 8, when the federation, the only body of owners of captive elephants in the state, criticised Kerala Forest Minister K. Raju's decision not to allow tuskers take part in festivities as it had killed seven people in the past.
The federation then announced that it would not allow its elephants to take part in festivals. It came as a dampener to the keenly watched Thrissur Pooram festivities, which include parading of more than 50 elephants and fireworks.
To iron out differences and resolve the issue, state ministers held an emergency meeting with the federation. On Friday, the Kerala High Court put the onus on the state government if tuskers should take part in festivities or not.
On Saturday morning, Ramachandran underwent a hour-long check-up by a veterinarians' team. The team cleared him as "fit for all activities" and submitted a report to Anupuma, who then decided to allow the pachyderm to do the job that he has been doing since 2014.
Speaking to the media, R. Chandran, President of the Thechikottukavu Devasom, owner of Ramachandran, said rules were very clear. If any elephant misbehaved, the responsibility would be that of the elephant owner, he added.
"Yes, Raman (Ramachandran) had some issues before, but he is loved by all. Following a high court directive, since 2014 he is guided by four mahouts. Since he has a vision problem with his right eye, the high court has directed that a mahout be posted on the right side when Raman moves around," said Chandran.

--IANS sg/kr/pcj