Book lands Jayaram in mess

Reference to tusks has Centre seeking probe and action

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Like characters in slapstick comedies, actor Jayaram seems to have shot himself in the foot. Mr Jayaram’s revelation in his elephant memoirs, Aalkoottathil Oru Aanapokkam, about how he got the possession of the tusks of a highly revered pachyderm, Padmanabhan, has now invited action from the Union ministry of environment and forests.

Project elephant director R.K. Srivastava, in a missive to the state chief wildlife warden, wants the issued to be probed and action taken against the actor.

According to law, tusks of a dead elephant can be possessed only by the owner of the elephant, that too only if the ownership certificate of the dead elephant is produced. In the memoir, Jayaram states that Padmanabhan was in reality the majestic elephant Ravindran he had adored as a child.

Much later in life when he was invited by a temple in Thrissur to anoint an elephant named Padmanabhan as the ‘gajaraja’, he identified it as his childhood idol. He was never its owner. Still, the tusks were “legally transferred” to his name after Padmanabhan’s death.

“Padmanabhan had died of overwork. If its custodian, Kuttanku-langara Mahavishnu Temple authorities, were not keen on keeping its tusks, it should have been handed over to the forest department,” said V.K. Venkitachalam of heritage animal task force. “The transfer of the tusks to he actor was illegal,” he said.

It was on the basis of Venk-itachalam’s complaint that the MoEF has directed the state to take action. O.P. Kaler, the assistant principal conservator of forests (wildlife) who is in charge of captive elephants in the state, conceded that tusks were given only to owners.

However, he said that wild animals were government property according to section 39 of the Wildlife Prote-ction Act. “So the government is well within is powers to gift trophies as it wishes,” Kaler said. He hastened to add that he was not aware of Jayaram’s case.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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