PETA India has exposed the abuse of Assam’s elephant Joymala (known as Jeymalyatha in Tamil Nadu), including the use of weapons such as pliers by the latest mahout, who was brought in after numerous other mahouts were caught on video beating her. The shocking report also reveals that she was beaten so ruthlessly she can be heard screaming in pain in a viral video at the holiest of places – the sanctum sanctorum of the Krishnan Kovil temple, where she is kept chained to the floor. Previously, a video showed her screaming while being beaten by two mahouts at a rejuvenation camp.
Although the Tamil Nadu Forest Department had encouraged PETA India to inspect the elephant and report on its findings, the mahout refused to allow PETA India’s investigating team to take photographs and video footage. Nonetheless, the team managed to covertly gather evidence. Cruelty to Jeymalyatha appears to be so routine that the mahout used pliers to painfully twist her skin to control her even in front of the inspectors. Numerous ankuses were found in the shed in which she’s chained by two legs for up to 16 hours a day. For the four hours during which inspectors were with her, no water or food was offered to her. As she’s forced to spend most of her life on concrete, her feet are painfully infected. PETA India has submitted a new veterinary inspection report to the forest department officials in Tamil Nadu and Assam showing the continued abuse of captive elephant Jeymalyatha, who has been reportedly kept in the illegal custody of the Srivilliputhur Nachiyar Thirukovil temple for over a decade and is now kept at the nearby Krishnan Kovil temple in Tamil Nadu.
There have been numerous incidents in Tamil Nadu and throughout India in which frustrated captive elephants have attacked or killed their mahouts. Examples include Deivanai, who was also from Assam and who killed her mahout at the Subramaniya Swami temple in Madurai; Masini, who is kept at the Samayapuram Mariamman temple in Trichy; and Madhumathi, who was used in a temple festival in Madurai.
Following complaints filed by PETA India and the intervention of the government body the Animal Welfare Board of India after two viral videos showed mahouts beating Jeymalyatha, a first information report under sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, was registered against the mahout. In addition, a wildlife offence report under the Wild Life (Protection) Act (WPA), 1972, along with the Tamil Nadu Captive Elephant (Management and Maintenance) Rules, 2011, was reportedly registered by the Srivilliputhur Forest Range in July.
Jeymalyatha was never returned to the Assam Environment & Forests Department by the Srivilliputhur Nachiyar Thirukovil temple after her permit to stay in the state expired according to news reports and certain papers. The first video, which surfaced in February 2021 and which showed her being beaten at a rejuvenation camp, led Tamil Nadu’s Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department to suspend the two mahouts involved. The Tamil Nadu Forest Department booked them under Rule 13 of the Tamil Nadu Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules, 2011, and Section 51 of the WPA, 1972. Despite these actions, the second video showed that Jeymalyatha’s abuse continued at the hands of another mahout. And now, she continues to be abused by the latest mahout, as revealed by PETA India’s inspection report.