PETA India Intervenes in Abused Elephant Joymala’s Case in Gauhati High Court

Posted on by Sudhakarrao Karnal

Following an application filed by PETA India, a Gauhati High Court bench consisting of Honourable Mr Justice Michal Zothankuma allowed PETA India to intervene in a matter in which the Assam Environment and Forest department is seeking directions for the transfer of abused elephant Joymala (also known as Jeymalyatha) back to Assam from Tamil Nadu. Joymala has apparently been in the illegal custody of the Srivilliputhur Nachiyar Thirukovil temple in Tamil Nadu for about a decade. Since 2021, the media has reported on multiple instances in which Joymala was beaten by mahouts, most recently in the sanctum sanctorum of the Krishnan Kovil temple in Tamil Nadu and previously at a rejuvenation camp there, leading Assam to demand her return.

PETA India had filed complaints with both the Assam and Tamil Nadu forest departments urging them to send Joymala to a specialised elephant rehabilitation centre where she can recover from her trauma, receive veterinary care, live unchained, and be in the company of other elephants. PETA India has approached the Honourable Gauhati High Court with the submission that the decision regarding Joymala’s custody should be made with her best interests in mind.

Through video evidence gathered in late October and again in early November 2022, PETA India shows that Joymala is shackled in chains on a hard concrete floor, in isolation from others of her kind, and being controlled with the threat of weapons. And PETA India’s 27 July 2022 inspection at the Krishnan Kovil temple, where she is currently housed, revealed that the cruelty to Joymala appears to be so routine that her mahout used pliers to painfully twist her skin to control her even in front of PETA India inspectors. Numerous ankuses were found in the shed in which she was chained. For the four hours during which inspectors were with her, no water or food was offered to her. And as she has been forced to spend most of her life on concrete, it was reported that her feet are painfully infected.

PETA India warns that an abused elephant is a danger to people around her. There have been numerous incidents in Tamil Nadu and throughout India in which frustrated captive elephants 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.

Joymala was never returned to the Assam forest department by the Srivilliputhur Nachiyar Thirukovil temple after her permit to stay in Tamil Nadu expired.

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