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The killing of a pregnant elephant in Kerala that ate a pineapple stuffed with explosives will be investigated by the central government, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Thursday. There has been an outpouring of rage and grief after tragic visuals of the elephant, dead in a river, emerged in a forest officer’s Facebook post earlier this week.

The government has taken “very serious note” of the elephant’s killing, said Javadekar, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, in a post. “We will not leave any stone unturned to investigate properly and nab the culprits. This is not an Indian culture to feed fire crackers and kill,” the minister tweeted.

Central Government has taken a very serious note of the killing of an elephant in Mallapuram, #Kerala. We will not leave any stone unturned to investigate properly and nab the culprit(s). This is not an Indian culture to feed fire crackers and kill.

Kerala chief minister also promised strict action against the offenders. “The forest department is probing the case and the culprits won’t be spared,” chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Wednesday.

The wild elephant strayed into a village near Silent Valley National Park in Palakkad last Wednesday and ate a pineapple filled with firecrackers. It exploded in its mouth and in that state the elephant walked for days in pain before it went into a river and died standing on May 27. Villagers in the region often use firecracker or explosive-filled fruit to protect their fields from wild animals, but the practice has been widely condemned as cruel and disturbing.

BJP leader Maneka Gandhi slammed the state government and Rahul Gandhi for not taking cruelty against animals seriously. She came down heavily on the ill-treatment of captive elephants. “Forest secretary should be removed and the minister for wildlife protection, if he has any sense, should resign. Rahul Gandhi is from that area, why has he not taken action,” she asked.

Industrialist Ratan Tata on Wednesday termed the killing of a pregnant elephant in Kerala a “meditated murder”, and sought justice for the animal. There has been massive outrage on social media over the elephant’s death. Several celebrities including Virat Kohli, Anushka Sharma, Shraddha Kapoor, Randeep Hooda, John Abraham and Akshay Kumar demanded action against animal cruelty. Actor Prithviraj Sukumaran also condemned the inhuman act.

A First Information Report has been filed against unknown persons. No arrests have been made so far. Two organizations have announced cash reward to anyone providing information that would lead to the arrest of the offenders.

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