Assam-Tamil Nadu Elephant Custody Row Grows into Mammoth Issue as Two HCs Now Involved

The elephant Joymala of Assam, which has been in a temple in Tamil Nadu, has now become an issue of not just two states but also two high courts.

After the Madras HC on Thursday gave a judgement for Tamil Nadu retaining the possession of Joymala and other elephants from Assam, the Gauhati HC on Friday issued a notice to all the authorities of both Assam and Tamil Nadu governments to facilitate a team from Assam with necessary security arrangements to see and investigate the health condition of Joymala and the other elephants from Assam.

This controversy started after the animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), released a video, claiming that Joymala was being subjected to cruelty at a temple in Tamil Nadu.

However, the Tamil Nadu government denied these accusations.

A war of words had erupted between the two states on Thursday after Tamil Nadu refused to return the leased elephants to Assam, including temple elephant Joymala.

The Tamil Nadu government, in a reply to a PIL filed by the Assam government, told the Madras High Court that it will not return the leased elephants.

Speaking to CNN-News18, advocate general of Assam Devojit Lon Saikia said, “The elephants are ours. They can’t claim their possession. Today honourable HC of Guwahati has sent a notice to every concerned authority of both Assam and Tamil Nadu governments to facilitate our team of officials who have been in Tamil Nadu for quite a few days to investigate the health condition of Joymala and other elephants from Assam in their temple. Earlier in the month of December, we wrote to them about this, and they gave us an NOC about taking back our elephants to Assam. We have it in writing. The elephants were there as a part of a contract that expired long back. ”

The Assam team is not being allowed to investigate the health of the state’s elephants in Tamil Nadu, he said. “We can still go inside but because we don’t want to create any untoward situation, our team is waiting for proper security to be provided to them. Today, Gauhati HC has already sent notices. We are hoping for cooperation from the TN government,” said Saikia.

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