Padma Shri Awardee Under the Scanner for Cruelty Towards Elephants

Serious allegations have been made against Padma Shri awardee and Indian entrepreneur Sundar Menon. There are allegations that Dr. Menon handled the elephants owned by the Thirvambady Devaswom in a cruel manner and treated them improperly for the past one year. The complaint was filed by V.K. Venkitachalam, secretary of the Heritage Animal Task Force. The High Court has ordered an inspection on the basis of the petition filed by Mr. Venkitachalam.

The petition was filed against Dr. Menon on various grounds. Stating several issues including public danger, cruelty against animals, violation of rules, and improper treatment of elephants, the Court has insisted that the notice be issued to Dr. Menon and the Thiruvambady Devaswom. The three elephants – Thiruvambady Sivasunder, Adiyat Ayyappan and Lakshmi – are being being kept in the compound of Dr. Menon’s residential property in Thrissur.

Anupama Subramanian, the counsel for the petitioner, told The Kochi Post that, “The Devaswom’s elephants are being kept in the compound of a private person’s land. Here, the owner and the custodian are different. There is a rule which says the owner of the elephant should be its custodian. Actually, it was given to Dr. Menon on an agreement of trust. But he has misused the trust shown by the Devaswom and is treating the elephants harshly and feeding food that is not permitted for them.”

Dr. Menon’s house is approximately a kilometer away from the Thiruvambady temple premises and the elephants are made to walk all the way to carry out the rituals in the temple. It is also to be noted that Dr. Menon’s residence is in a densely populated area. So providing shelter to three elephants has always been a reason for the neighbours’ complaints. The road and the shelter area is just divided by a wall. During the musth period of male elephants, they should be kept isolated and should not be tied near a female elephant. However, here the proceedings are different. Adding to it, Lakshmi, the female elephant, has serious vision problems that happened last year owing to the cruelty of the mahout. The shelter is not good enough. The waste and excreta disposal of the elephants has also led to complaints and the Thrissur Corporation officials recently conducted an inspection. Dr. Menon has been using the public drain to dispose the waste.

In all ways, the issue can be seen as violation of animal rights and is causing several problems to the public. The petition says that the intention of Dr. Menon is not the welfare of the elephants, but to have an influence on the Devaswom and for publicity. For the ‘pooram’ and elephants lovers of the city of Thrissur, this is something that cannot be overlooked.

Main photograph by Rajesh Kakkanatt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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