Dated June 3, 2020

... I would like to speak to you. But since I can't — and you would have to read, instead of listening — I would like to set the tone — which my words will merely fail to convey.

I am not trying to be arrogant here. Or angry. Or emotional mess. I want to convince you to be on the same side of this issue. I reach out to you with nothing but the confidence you'd use your conscience wisely.

I am going to ask questions. My goal is to make you think, by asking questions. Wherever you see a "ط", please pause to think and understand the question. I don't expect you would answer me — just let the questions make you think: sleep on it if you would like to. That is all that I expect.

To everyone who is appalled by the death of the pregnant elephant1:

I am continuously astonished by the outpouring of condemnation people have expressed to this unfortunate incident.
And I am glad instead of staying silent, and ruling this case hopeless; you chose to speak against this cruelty. It humbles me to see people unanimously standing up for these animals. Thank you for being the voice of those who truly need it.

When I woke up this morning, I saw the stories about the pregnant elephant who died after she allegedly ate a pineapple which had explosives in it. It exploded in her mouth; and damaged her jaw: as she died at a river, bleeding.
The media reported this is a tactic used to shoo off the wild boars.

Concerned people (the target audience of this letter) posted stories about this online, the hashtags trended on Twitter, Bollywood actors2 and cricketers3 expressed outrage; some dedicated a web-comic4 or a poem5 about it.

I was painfully made aware of this situation: thanks to you fellow people who also share the sentiment this was wrong.

But as the day went on, and I saw stories upon stories, hashtags and tweets; I just could not understand the reason behind this uproar on social media. I am glad you people are not silent, but what made you so concerned?

You seem to hold the opinion of what happened was evil. But what about the said incident was actually evil?
Think about this:

Why were you *actually* upset?

  • Are you distressed because the animal died?
    Would you still have posted stories if she had not died — just badly disfigured her jaw but somehow survived?
  • Does the death of the unborn baby make you revolt in anger? The fact that an animal — which did nothing wrong, who wasn't even born yet — makes you call this incident evil?
  • Is it the death of the to-be mother elephant?
    Would you have shown the same empathy if the elephant was not pregnant? Why?
  • Would you have expressed the same anger, had it been a male elephant?
  • Was it the animal that died?
    Using fruits with explosives to scare off wild boars is a common thing — now it is the norm. Farmers want to keep boars away from their crops, and they find explosives more effective than a strong fence.
    • Would there be a similar outrage, had a pregnant wild boar died instead of this elephant? Would you still express your grief in a tweet if the victim was a boar, or a pig or a goat? Why?
  • Or was it the manner of her death?
    Maybe if she didn't die because an explosive went off in her mouth — what if she was poached by a gun? Or someone slit her throat, and let her bleed her to death in pain? Would that make any difference?
  • Or was it because her death accounted for nothing?
    Would it ease your conscience, knowing she didn't die in vain: as some people cut her body parts, and cooked it for lunch? Or will that make your blood boil? Why? How about a peacock?

The more I saw reactions by concerned people like you, the more I felt *this* story is getting all the attention because it is a rare incident.
I hope that is not true.

  1. You know, in the last few years, the United States dropped more than 26 thousand bombs in the Middle East, The Guardian reported.6
  2. The New York Times reported Russia dropped bombs on hospitals in Syria. Imagine hurting the sick and the wounded.7
  3. An article published by the BBC in 2015 reported Saudi Arabia did air-strikes on areas of civilian population in Yemen.8

26 thousand bombs. Dropping bombs on hospitals. Killing civilians in air-strikes.

Maybe you didn't even hear about it. Maybe you did. But honestly tell me, did you feel a sense of revolt from within knowing there? Did you raise the concerns back then?

If another bomb goes off in Syria, maybe we might not care about the human lives lost. You know why? Because we are used to that news. It is common. It has become the new "normal". It is the norm. What we are not used to is a police officer choking a civilian to death in broad daylight in the US9. That is why we all rave with anger.

Had a protester killed in Hong Kong, or an activist killed in Pakistan, are we vocal enough? Perhaps not. That is the "norm".

An elephant killed by an explosive isn't the normal news. It makes us think. It makes us question. We all want to see the perpetrators being prosecuted.
But tell me: Why do we not extend the same empathy to other animals? Why do we let countless animals die every moment, for meat? What is something so fundamentally different about this incident which got your attention; but not when you are aware animals are treated inhumanely.

Is an animal getting killed because of a bomb too much — but many other animals let bled to death somehow okay?

I tried to reach out to some of you people. They agreed everything about this was wrong. But as soon as I made the connection with the meat industry; they felt the conversation was uncomfortable. Yes; it really is. And maybe because we have been avoiding it for so long, that we think eating animals is a "norm".

I am not trying to debate you; no, I want you to put your conscience to work; and think about this. What is your explanation? Do you agree with the following quote?

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
— George Orwell, Animal Farm

I would understand if you agree with the above sentiment.

There are some fundamental duties, a sapient mind like ours should fulfil. If you have felt what happened was wrong, please use this opportunity to think about the sufferings humans have been inflicting on animals.

I am not shaming you; or guilt-tripping you. That does not work. I want you to challenge your beliefs and justify to yourself what your stance is. If you have been silent before, please don't stay silent now. And if you think you alone can't make a difference, just see: the death of one elephant did unite us. So please, stand up for the injustice these beings suffer.

I write this encouraging you to think. You can decide the how's and what's per your needs, how they suit you; what you want to do. Please do not let the "common" things become the new "normal". None of this is normal. Should we have a right to kill someone? If so, under what circumstances?

Right now, this isn't the norm; people are still talking about it. You can really make an impact. So, please think!
When something happens all the time, we start accepting it. It would be great if we could stand united in the defence of animals and how we treat them. But right now, I hope you at least consider questioning the "norms".

We don't generally talk about these issues; it makes us restless. So did this gruesome incident. Use this opportunity for reevaluating what has been the "norm". Don't let the death of this elephant go away like this.

All I would like to say is:

Use your conscience wisely.

"In memory of the pregnant elephant that died in Kerala eating a pineapple stuffed with a firecracker." By Rohan Chakravarty (green_humour) on Instagram.[4]