Even as outrage over the killing of a pregnant elephant in Kerala snowballed into a communal controversy, leaders across the political spectrum in the state have condemned the issue. Controversy raged after BJP Lok Sabha MP Maneka Gandhi claimed in an interview to ANI on Wednesday that the elephant had been fed a bomb-laden pineapple. She had wrongly identified the location of the incident as Malappuram, a district with a large Muslim population, and called it the ‘most violent district’ in India.
However, the targeting of the district with misinformation on social media has led to backlash from political leaders in the state.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the campaign against Malappuram was against facts. “The campaign had attempted to defame Kerala. It’s not fair. The attempts to question the self-esteem of the state can’t be accepted,” he said on Thursday.
CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan asked citizens to be on the vigil against evil forces who make use of the situation for communal propaganda. “Their intention is to destroy the foundation of the secularism of Kerala. The attempt of the RSS is to create ethnic conflict as it is happening in the US. The death of the elephant is a worrying one for the state. It shouldn’t have happened. But some use this opportunity to set the base for communal propaganda,” he said.
“Two Union ministers tweeted that the incident happened in Malappuram. It was a deliberate propaganda targeting a particular religious faith. Maneka Gandhi has always been at the forefront of such campaigns,” Kodiyeri said on Friday.
Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala demanded an apology from former Union Minister Maneka Gandhi for her remarks.
“Your statement has given a space for the airing of hate speeches, abusing a district and all of its people. Social media is now full of hate speeches against a particular community. I request you to withdraw your statement portraying this district as a centre of crime and to apologise for making such a false statement,” he wrote in a letter to the BJP leader.