After three elephants, including a pregnant one, were mowed down by a moving train near Coimbatore, five Forest Department officials from Tamil Nadu inquiring into the incident were detained at the Palakkad railway station on Saturday, November 27, police said. The officials had gone to Palakkad to investigate the speed of the train, which was travelling from Mangaluru to Chennai, when it hit the elephants.
The Tamil Nadu Forest Department officials had detained two loco pilots of the train. They then took possession of a chip which determined the speed of the train at the time of the tragedy, and, according to The Hindu, alleged that the high speed of the trains was the cause of the incident. However, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) of the Palakkad station accused the Forest Department team of taking possession of the chip illegally.
According to a Railways official, the team was detained because “it was an offence to possess the railway department’s property.” He further alleged, “Without getting any prior permission from higher authorities, no one can enter inside the locomotive. The Forest Department staff illegally entered the locomotive and removed the microchip. It is an offence under the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act. So, the five staff from the forest department were detained for questioning by the RPF.”
However, later, the Forest Department officials, along with the two loco pilots, were released. The loco pilots have been booked under Section 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act, and were released after their statements were recorded.
A female elephant and two calves were crossing the railway line near Mavuthampathy village next to Navakkarai in Coimbatore district, when the Chennai Mail going from Mangaluru towards Chennai hit the elephants near the Walayar-Ettimadai A line. The three pachyderms died on the spot. The female elephant was pregnant. The elephants were cremated at a spot close to where the accident took place, after a post-mortem was conducted.