THRISSUR: Heritage Animal Task Force, a pro-animal organisation based here, has filed a complaint with the intelligence wing of the Forest Department and Animal Welfare Board of India over an alleged incident of using fire sparklers atop a hired elephant during a church festival at Pazhanji on the evening of October 3. The functionaries of the Task Force have also sent the copies of the complaint along with the video footage and photographs of the alleged incident to the chief wildlife warden and state police chief.
It is said in the complaint filed by Task Force secretary V. K. Venkitachalam that during the two-day fest at the St Mary's Orthodox Cathedral near Pazhanji in Kunnamkulam, sparklers were set on fire by fixing them to holders which were in turn held by a person sitting atop the elephant. The fire sparked by the fireworks went up nearly four metres high atop the elephant, as seen in the video footage. “The picture of the incident which has been sent along with the plaint to top officials reveals the seriousness of the incident because illegal fireworks were set off during the procession to the church at Pazhanji market with jam-packed devotees surrounding elephant named Cherpulassery Rajasekharan,” Venkitachalam said.
He also said that as the latest High Court order, which laid down the safety guidelines for such festivals, had fixed 100 metres as the safe distance to conduct festival fireworks, it was a grave violation of the safety norms by the organizers of the procession. “By such a blatant violation of animal and safety laws, the organizers put the lives of hundreds of people who turned up at the fest at risk as there was every possibility of the pachyderm panicking and running amok due to the fireworks virtually on its back,” he noted. When DC took up the matter with the concerned assistant conservator of forest (social forestry) in Thrissur Jaya Madhavan, he said the fireworks were unlawful and the compliant would be inquired into.