Karnataka Elephant Almost Stolen By Men Posing as Advocates Returns to Safety

Karnataka Elephant Almost Stolen By Men Posing as Advocates Returns to Safety

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Robbing a shop, a house or even a company is quite common. But have you ever heard of someone stealing a fully grown elephant? It is not an imaginary situation, but an incident that occurred in Tumkur, Karnataka. Two men tried and almost got away with stealing an elephant which was saved before it could get lost forever. The 30-year-old female elephant, Laxmi, has been a part of Sri Karibasaveshwara Mutt of Horapete in Tumkur, Karnataka, since she was a little calf. A rather soft-natured elephant, she is well-known in the town where one could spot her going on a walk with two mahouts on her back occasionally. Animal rights organisations had filed a case against the mutt on the grounds of animal cruelty. They mentioned that the elephant was used for ‘begging’ in the town.

The court ordered the forest department to interfere and a notice was also issued to the mutt on this basis, stating that the elephant should be handed over to Radhakrishna Elephant Sanctuary in Gujarat. Five months ago, two men who introduced themselves as advocates from Kerala and Tumkur respectively, claiming that they were experts in dealing such cases and would voluntarily help the mutt to win complete custody of Laxmi. The duo visited the mutt multiple times and each time they said the legal formalities were looked into appropriately.

On December 25, they visited the mutt and said all cases were cleared. Meanwhile, according to the instructions of the court, forest department officials came in and examined the elephant to give a clearance certificate for the animal to go on a long journey to Gujarat. The two forest officials who came to ‘check’ the elephant said that they suspected a tumour had developed in its stomach which needed to be surgically removed. Hence it was decided that the elephant would be shifted to Bannerghatta National Park in Bengaluru for treatment.

Last Friday, on the 31st of December, the elephant was shifted into a truck and it started its journey to Bannerghatta National Park with its two mahouts and the advocate duo. On the way the truck took an unusual diversion near Dabaspete which is around 19 km from Tumkur. When the mahouts questioned about it, they were thrashed and thrown into buses that carried them back to Tumkur.

On reaching the mutt, the mahouts told the mutt staff about the cheaters leaving with the elephant. The shocked staff began searching for the elephant. They even called the local police who joined the search team. First, they called the Bannerghatta National Park where the officials said that if any animal is being sent for treatment they will get an official information at least a week prior and they will keep everything ready for it. And they confirmed no information on an elephant’s arrival has been received by the team so far. Secondly, another place where elephants are treated is Malur and even there the enquiry wasn’t fruitful.

By now, the driver of the truck and the ‘advocates’ were both not answering their calls. The elephant or the truck was not found in and around Dabaspete. Meanwhile, the mutt officials called the owner of the truck and threatened him of police enquiry. He in turn contacted the driver and said that he would face imprisonment if he didn’t reveal the truth.

The scared driver said that the duo told him to take a diversion near Nelamangala and travelled through Kunigal to a village called Narasandra. He said he parked the truck with the elephant there and left from the place according to the instruction of the duo. The mutt search team rushed to Narasandra. By that time, another truck with Gujarat RTO registration was there and a group of people were struggling to alight the elephant on it. With no mahouts around, Laxmi was scared around strangers. Being a soft natured creature, thrashings and physical abuse by the miscreants further lowered her confidence and she was reluctant to get on the truck.

The mutt team reached just on time brought her back to the mutt in the same truck. Surprisingly no formal complaint has been lodged against anyone so far. But an internal enquiry has begun against the two forest officials who lied about Laxmi’s illness. The ‘advocate’ duo are missing now and it is said that they were not advocates at all.

“I was completely deceived all along. Laxmi has been in the mutt since she was very little. She has never harmed anyone. And now, because of us humans she had to go through so much pain. It is very hurtful to see such a thing happen,” said the 90 year old seer of Karibasaveshwara Mutt, Sri Jagadguru Channabasava Rajendra.

“What kind of criminals are these people? They have robbed an elephant, really? If someone is soft, this is how they are taken advantage of. If Laxmi was a rough elephant, she would have thrown all of them. They are lucky that she isn’t. We will take extra care of her from now on,” said an official from the mutt who refused to be named. Now, Laxmi seems to be at peace being back at her shed, to her mahouts and munching on her favorite sugarcane.

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