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#FreeSunder Bombay HC Case Update

Written by PETA

Posted 03-05-2014, 11:13 AM | 54 Comments

During a High Court of Bombay hearing on 3 March 2014, PETA’s lawyers Shiraz Rustomjee and Rohan Rajadhyaksha presented findings by elephant experts Dr EK Easwaran, Assistant Director of the Department of Animal Husbandry in Kerala, and Dr Yaduraj Khadpekar, senior veterinary officer of Wildlife SOS, who visited the 14-year-old elephant named Sunder on 19 February and argued that he is kept so severely chained that he’s unable to lie down.

The findings showed that Sunder is displaying signs of severe frustration and mental distress, manifest as constant head-wobbling, swaying and other abnormal repetitive movements. As per the report and evidence submitted to the court, Sunder was displaying aggressive behaviour only towards his own mahout, Hyder Abu Bakr, and no aggression towards other people during the inspection, indicating that Sunder feels threatened by the mahout. Sunder is at the centre of a case in which PETA is calling for his release to a sanctuary.

Member of the Legislative Assembly Vinay Kore donated Sunder to the Jyotiba temple in 2007, and the elephant has been kept chained since then. In December 2013, PETA obtained video footage showing that Sunder’s mahout violently beat him with a pole near a poultry shed, where he had been moved at Kore’s behest. That same month, the High Court of Bombay ordered Sunder’s transfer to a sanctuary, but he has yet to be released by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Sarjan Bhagat. Kore and the Kolhapur Division of the Forest Department claimed Sunder was not being transferred because he is in musth (a period of heightened sexual urge, which can make captive bull elephants aggressive from frustration) and therefore cannot be transported.

However, the recent experts’ report clarified that Sunder is not showing signs of a normal musth condition but of moda (or adolescent) musth and pointed out that Sunder can be transported to a sanctuary and should be, in order to avoid further damage to his mental health. The report also confirmed that Sunder’s current housing facilities are grim and do not even meet the minimum basic standards.

After hearing the arguments by Mr Rustomjee and seeing the experts’ report, the court acknowledged that the mahout is untrained and that it is cruel to keep an elephant chained in this way.

Among the stars who have taken to Twitter or joined the #FreeSunder campaign in other ways are Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, Arjun Rampal, R Madhavan, Gulshan Grover and many others.

The matter has been adjourned to 11 March 2014 for the final hearing.

PETA continues to call for Sunder to be released to a sanctuary, where he can live unchained and in the company of other elephants.




Commenting is closed.
  • Seema Vaid

    PLEASE SIGN MY PETITIO!! PETA … you need to follow up on Sunder . why cannot an elephant expert take care of Sunder while the court rules .. what is the delay .. I am sick to my stomach thinking about Sunder’s condition

  • Jo

    Any news on poor Sunders release? Every day he is living in hell! I can’t believe the courts are taking so long…. It’s and easy decision…..

  • Tangie Lang


  • K Barbieri

    Every moment of inaction is another moment that Sunder is in agony! Please have mercy and compassion for this beautiful animal. Allow him to live the way he was meant to, in freedom with members of his own kind. Please release Sunder to sanctuary immediately!

  • Kim Breakey

    Thank you Rahat for this update on Sunder! We are praying for Sunders release to a sanctuary where he can finally live a chain free, pain free, loving life with other elephants. Sunder has never deserved such cruelty. Please free Sunder now.

  • Shelli Bond

    Please give us an update on Sunder, this matter is picking up steam worldwide, it is all over social media. Please work to get Sunder released and away from the beatings, PLEASE!!!

  • Debi


  • Rina Varughese

    PETA what is happening with this animal. Please give us an update and let us know how we can take further action beyond the petition. I don’t even know how many people have signed the petition. I have written to Indian officials. I am American- this is an international matter and very saddening. Please update.

  • Ron Winkelman

    Why is this allowed to happen ANYWHERE on this earth! What is wrong with you people? No living being deserves to be tortured over and over. Does the Indian nation not have a soul? I am sickened by this and PRAY that Sunder is freed IMMEDIATELY!!

  • Jo

    He must be freed this is disgusting treatment of a wonderful animal…. He is loving in Hell and his heart, soul and body is broken poor thing… Simply awful!! And I can’t believe a politician is involved in this. They should be ashamed of themselves….

  • Inga

    It is March 29th and still can not find an update?? To the staff members of Petra India, is Sunder being forgotten again? Why are you not providing a daily update on the situation? It was so right of you to bring the living conditions of Sunder to the public yet so wrong of you not to provide a daily update even if the situation has not changed. Please follow up Thank you.

  • Tamra Rosas

    This brings great pain to our Creator and to anyone with a normal heart condition. This is not going unnoticed and justice will be done. Sunder deserves respect, and it is our responsibility to care for all animals properly, as they are a gift from God. Elephants in particular are closely related to humans in their emotional make-up. It is a joy and a gift to have a close relationship with such an animal. Anyone who can abuse an animal has no respect or appreciation for their own life. The fact that there has been such a delay and a “putting off” of Sunder’s release to a peaceful life, shows no one really cares. Quit using Sunder as a political tool and give him the life that all animals deserve.

  • Dawn

    It is now March 28th, and we have a grave and inhumane situation continuing for this poor, helpless and might I add AWARE sentient creature. Please PETA and all who petition, continue the good fight on behalf of a profoundly gentle and intelligent animal. FIGHT! Be sure to forward this petition to all you know. Peace Love and Light to all.

  • Sandra Catenacci


  • Gypsy Momma

    This needs more media attention, more public pressure. This is ridiculous. Each day passing is a day closer to the death of this magnificent animals life. Shame on all those involved in his harm & those prolonging it.

  • Kaump

    Please provide updated information. It is far past time for this beautiful creatures torment to end!

  • Sonya

    It is March 23rd, what happens now to Sunder? Can we write to the court or to someone involved? Will this be postboned until he is dead?

  • Colette Fontaine

    This is perverse barbaric constant attack on one of our planets most wonderful intelligent, peaceful sentient beings! Please, he must be sent to a proper sanctuary, and the handler should have his pole wielding hand cut off, for having inflicted such cruel, relentless torturous beatings upon Sunder! God bless all of you and your efforts to save this poor baby!

  • Tara Granke

    Time to end this fiasco.

  • Sibylle Peters

    Let him go into a sanctuary!!! No more chains,please!!!!!

  • Pamela Kaczynski

    This has gone on long enough for Sunder. Hearing after hearing. This elephant desperately needs to go to a sanctuary with other elephants. This mahout is not good for Sunder. He is probably terribly afraid of him. If you treat an elephant right then the elephant will treat you right and co-operate without physical abuse. I pray for you all the time sweet Sunder and I pray the Indian court-system does right by you.

  • Ruth Parkinson

    This is abject heinous cruelty of the highest. What evil exists in the minds of Indian people that they can do this to an intelligent beautiful creature that has never harmed them, Please release this animal. I hope those responsible for such are taken to court and punished, severely!

  • Katey O Fiske

    I AGREE that SUNDER MUST be released to a SANCTUARY where he can live UNCHAINED and IN THE COMPANY of other elephants!!!

  • Anna Beech

    This has to stop. It is a damning issue for India and one which the world watches and judges it for. If you allow this, you are not human. What is a human but a compassionate being? This is inhumane.

  • Maria Schulz

    Free Sunday!!!!!!!!

  • Mia

    Please free sunder. We are surely more evolved than to imprison sentient beings for entertainment.

  • Mireille Soler

    free animal prisoners please !

  • Jacqueline Cervoni

    This is the most outrageous and cruel practices, it infuriates me to no end that this type of barbaric treatment happens everyday…….it must stop and stop now.

  • Johanna

    Do the right thing and give thus elephant a proper life

  • Ann De Temmerman

    Free Sunder

  • Ann De Temmerman

    Free Sunder

  • Claudia Nunes

    i support this cause

  • Juani Muñoz


  • Diogo

    please yes

  • Barbara B Miller

    Stop the cruelty.

  • Corine Noiren

    Please Free Sunder in a sanctuary, he desearves it !! Please

  • Shaila Ss

    Free sunder

  • Lenore Kadish

    do the right thing, FREE SUNDER!

  • Allison Cole

    Please release this elephant. Sunder deserves a decent life without being chained up. I am literally distraught to read about humankind treating our fellow animals with such disgrace. I’m begging you to realease him.

  • Mike Scott-ram

    Why dio people do it. It’s disgusting;so cruel.

  • Avril

    He must be freed – this is intolerable and must be stopped!

  • Suzana

    I am shocked reading this and I am not sure if I should cry or say really cruel things here.
    What is the purpose for this cruelty and what can we do to stop this?
    I will never visit India and this completely ruins all the myth about a spiritual country.

  • Tracy Higgan

    This poor elephant needs a place to call home do the right thing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Frstbse

    This is absolutely heartbreaking.

  • Nancy Goswami

    Animals are not ours to torture!!!

  • Maria Witherford

    Beautiful sunder MUST be freed finally after the hearing on the 1th March, there is no reason why this cannot be done once and for all, no matter what, he needs to be out of there. x

  • Debbie Horner

    Please please allow this beautiful sensitive elephant be freed of the miserable cruel life he has been having to live with daily. He is not old yet looks much older than years. I go to bed praying for you to release him to PETA to place him in a sanctuary. Do the right thing. Of course he’s been terribly abused breaks my heart. My prayers are constant for his release. Free Sunder – thank you.

  • Catherine Zbinden

    FREEDOM for the poor SUNDER please …

  • Debbie Knight


  • Marian Madsen

    Please release Sunder to a sanctuary.


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