Thrissur: A crisis seems to be brewing over the historic Thrissur Pooram with elephant owners announcing that their elephants would not be part of the famed festival in protest against the move to ban tusker Thechikkottukavu Ramachandran from participating in public events.
Alleging that the state government was trying to destroy temple festivals, the owners said that no elephant would be sent to any festival from Saturday.
The owners, demanding that the ban on Ramachandran should be lifted, said that a big conspiracy involving Forest Department officials and others had led to the curbs on the tusker.
Minister V S Sunil Kumar, terming the decision of the elephant owners as unfortunate, directed the Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu Devaswom authorities to settle the issue.
Tusker Ramachandran is supposed to take part in only one ritual related to the 'pooram' festival. On May 10, the Kerala High Court will consider a plea seeking its nod to allow the tusker to participate.
"We are willing to talk to anybody to solve the issue. The elephant owners should withdraw their decision," said Sunil Kumar.
Meanwhile, the Guruvayur Devaswom said that its elephants could take part in Thrissur Pooram. Sunil Kumar also held talks with representatives of Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu temples.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said that it was wrong on the part of the owners to take a decision while the matter was before the High Court. "Discussions will be held tomorrow," he added.
At the same time, Forest Minister K Raju claimed that no tusker had been banned. "A warning had been issued regarding the health of the elephant. A report to this effect was submitted by the Forest officials to the Collector," he said.
"Our intention is to avoid any tragedy. The Forest Department will not interfere in temple customs. A suitable decision can be taken by the committee headed by the Collector," said Raju.
In a social media post, the Forest Minister had said that there was a ban on Thechikkottukavu Ramachandran from taking part in temple processions. Moreover, Thechikkottukavu Devaswom authorities were torturing the tusker, Raju alleged.
Raju posted the note even as ministers A C Moideen, V S Sunilkumar and C Raveendranath were trying to solve the issue.
Thechikottukavu Ramachandran had run amok at Guruvayur after firecrackers were burst near it, leading to the death of two people. The chief wildlife warden had then instructed the collector to bar the elephant from taking part in temple festivals or functions.
However, the devaswom members pointed out that the elephant got scared when the firecrackers were burst and it was not a problem linked to the tusker's health.
The outfit of elephant owners would meet to discuss the issue on Wednesday. They might also announce their decision not to provide elephants until the issue was resolved. Such a decision would impact the festivals after Pooram.
Plea for tusker in HC
The Kerala High Court has sought a reply from authorities on a plea by Thechikottukavu Devaswom, seeking permission to take the elephant for festivals and other rituals.
The plea pointed out that the tusker had been a part of the rituals at the Kuttoor Neythalakavu temple in Thrissur for years and also had a health certificate. There would be also four experienced mahouts with the tusker, the plea added.