Home » Voice of Imphal Times : Who killed Assam’s 18 Asiatic elephants ?

Voice of Imphal Times : Who killed Assam’s 18 Asiatic elephants ?

by Rinku Khumukcham
0 comment 8 minutes read

By – Nava Thakuria


Can a herd of wild Asiatic elephants be killed by a thunderbolt? What would be its impact on the soil and trees if such a massive lightning strike at all hit the planet? Why the surrounding villages could not experience the sound of thunder along with bright rays of light? Was not it a planned murder of wild animals to clear the area for a power project?

So many questions have been raised by the environmentally-conscious citizens of India as they found a breaking news from Nagaon in central Assam where it was described that  18 Asiatic elephants died of some mysterious reasons. The State environment & forest minister  Parimal Suklabaidya made an early assumption that all the bulky animals died due to electrocution by lightning.


The unfortunate incident took place on a hillock in Nagaon-Karbi Anglong border locality on the night of 12 May, as claimed by the authority, which spread sensations among the people following Hindu culture where elephants are adored as a symbol of Lord Ganesh.  The State government, led by chief minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, already ordered a high-level probe into it to trace the reason behind the entire herd’s shocking death.

After visiting the site, forest minister Suklabaidya, who served the same portfolio under Sarbananda Sonowal’s cabinet during the last tenure of Bhartiya Janata Party led coalition government in Dispur, again hinted that the pachyderms were killed by a thunderbolt. A probe committee comprising of forest officials, wildlife specialists, veterinarians, etc is expected to complete its detailed investigations by a fortnight.

But the post mortem reports of those elephants are yet to be made public (after ten days of the incident). Various conservation and wildlife protection bodies are rigorously demanding to get access to the reports in vain. Northeast India’s  well-known nature conservationist Soumyadeep Datta suspected some foul plays with the animals. The director of Nature’s Beckon instantly termed the thunderbolt theory as unacceptable.

However, the first sharp and methodological reaction came from All Assam Engineer’s Association (AAEA), a forum of electrical, electronics, mechanical, etc, engineering graduates over the theory of lighting that was projected as the primary reason of death to the 18 wild elephants at one go.

“It is absurd,” said Er Kailash Sarma, president of AAEA adding that if at all it happened (such a massive thunderbolt had stricken on Earth that night) gloomy days are ahead of the wildlife and human population.

“We must consider it as a matter of serious concern and the caveat to all of us, as it may repeat  in future anywhere on the planet (if not in India),” added  Er Sarma.

The province government and initial findings of a probe committee hinted that all the animals were killed by the thunderbolt within a second.

“Even it is assumed that all the victim animals were very close to each other during the incident (to get electrocution), their carcasses could have been found together, argued AAEA secretary Er Inamul Hye adding, “in reality it was not like that and their bodies were seen scattered.”

The engineer’s forum analyzed, if the animals faced the thunderstruck as they were found scattered, it needed a massive strike covering over 150 square-meter area on the hillock. Then burns on the trees and even the topsoil could have been visible.

“But the concerned site was enriched with its greenery. Residents of the adjacent areas could not remember such a lightning thunder two-three days prior to the recovery of elephant carcasses,” asserted the AAEA  statement.

Engineering science narrates that a lightning strike, created by the electrical discharges due to imbalances caused between the Earth and storm clouds (or within the clouds), can produce  40 Kilovault to 120 kV and 5 Kiloampere to 200 kA producing an intense sound (up to 200 dB). A lightning bolt (from cloud to ground) may generate around 1,000,000,000 Watt (around one billion volts of electricity) on the spot and it can heat the surrounding air up to 53000º Fahrenheit.

When the cloud-to-ground lightning hit an animal, it creates sudden disturbance to the internal electric signals of a living being, which is otherwise essential for operating organs like heart, lungs along with the nervous system. Normally the animal faces a cardiac arrest, brain Injuries, spinal cord damages or severe burns and subsequently it collapsed within a short time.

AAEA demands a high-level scientific probe into the incident that took place, according to the government, on the night of 12 May to unearth the mystery of jumbos’ death.

It may be a case of poisoning as this kind of incidents often take place in different parts of Northeast, said environmentalist Datta, adding ‘that is why the demand to make the mortem report (of each dead) public has been raised.’ Speaking to this writer the experienced activist opined, the unusual delay of revealing post mortem reports indicates there may be something wrong in it.

Assam gives shelter to around  6,000 wild Asiatic elephants (India as a whole to nearly  30,000 bulky animals)  and often they enter human colonies in search of foods. Datta expresses angers that the urbanization has caused severe damages to the forest and wildlife which finally creates the series of man-elephant conflicts across the region.

Haricharan Das from the environment protection group Aranya Surakhya Samity, expressed dismay over the unusual deaths of elephants including many calves. In a strong video message, Das demanded a

Central Bureau of Investigation probe to resolve the mystery of their deaths and stringent punishments to the culprits if it is proved a mane-made disaster.

Site of the incident, which is near to Burha Pahar area under the world famous (one-horned rhino habitat) Kaziranga National Park on the south bank of mighty Brahmaputra, often gets elephant visitors to the tune of 200 individuals. Moreover, Bamuni hillock inside Kundali proposed reserve forest under Kothiatali forest range in central Assam is a known elephant habitat.

But there is a giant solar power plant with the capacity of 15 megaWatt at the foothills of Karbi Pahar that surfaced as a matter of prime suspect. Hundreds of marginal farmers in Mikir Bamuni grant village (under Samaguri revenue circle in Nagaon) continue protesting against the grabbing of their fertile land, cultivated by them for generations, by Azure Power Forty Private Limited for the project.

For over a year, a group of Karbi and Adivasi villagers are fighting for their land rights and many of the protesters were even put behind the bars by the administration. The 400-million-dollar company claimed it bought the land from the erstwhile landlord’s (zamindar) family in August 2020. When India was facing the severe Covid-19 pandemic, the company also took possession of the land under police protections.

Lately the matter reached Gauhati High Court, where the highest court in the State ordered status quo on the matter on 1 March last. Now the construction works of the power plant, put up in a campus of over 276 bighas of land by the company (whose corporate office is located at Saket, New Delhi), has been ceased.

“We opposed the  project as it is planned to erect in an elephant habitat. It is shocking how the project got the no-objection certificate from the forest department. We also do not subscribe the lightning theory as a killer of 18 elephants,” said a local activist belonged to Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), an influential civil society group of Assam.

The activist, while talking to local news channels, claimed that powerful people engaged with illegal tree felling and stone quarries are involved with the planned murder of elephants, which must be probed thoroughly. The organization demanded to return the farmer’s land and stop constructing the power plant in the eco-sensitive zone.

You may also like

Leave a Comment


Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


©2023 – All Right Reserved. Designed and Hosted by eManipur!

Adblock Detected

Please support us by disabling your AdBlocker extension from your browsers for our website.