Noted animal rights campaigner Heritage Animal Task Force (HATF) has alleged that over 50 elephants were 'tortured' by giving them food, 'uncongenial' to their health condition as part of a ritualistic feeding ceremony held at the famed Vadakkumnathan temple in Kerala's Thrissur.
HATF also alleged that many elephants were forced to stand on three legs at the entrance of the heritage temple as a mark of respect to Lord Vadakkumnathan, the presiding deity.
More than 50 elephants were exhibited in front of the temple on Sunday as part of the annual ritualistic 'Anayoottu', a feeding ceremony of jumbos which falls on the first day of Malayalam month 'karkkidakam'.
The jumbos were fed with jaggery, ghee, rice, coconut, sugarcane and medicinal herbs as part of the feast.
Taking objection to this, HATF Secretary V K Venkitachalam in a letter to the Director of 'Project Elephant' of central government claimed that "the elephants were compelled to eat a mixture of jaggery and tender coconut pieces and boiled rice mixed with oil which are uncongenial for their health conditions."
He also alleged a female elephant was forced to push a lorry when its tyres got submerged in the mud at Thekkinkadu ground in front of the temple.
These acts amounted to the violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, he said, adding such type of cruelty would attract punishment of seven years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 25,000.
Moreover, the Supreme Court direction not to allow parading of elephants without having ownership certificates, was also violated, he alleged in the letter.