The elephant had been roughed up by its mahout and another caretaker on February 20, a video of which went viral on social medial platforms

Nearly two weeks after temple elephant Jeyamalyatha was roughed up by its mahout and his assistant at the Thekkampatti annual rejuvenation camp for temple and mutt elephants, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department sent the elephant back to Srivilliputhur Andal temple in the early hours of Thursday.

Official sources from the HR&CE Department and the Forest Department told The Hindu that the elephant was sent back in a separate vehicle from the camp premises near Mettupalayam at around 2.30 a.m. on Thursday.

On February 20, mahout Vinil Kumar (46) and another caretaker Sivaprasath (32) caned the elephant on its legs and a clip of this act went viral on social media platforms. Subsequently, the HR&CE Department suspended the mahout and the Forest Department arrested the duo the next day. They were granted bail by a court in Mettupalayam on Tuesday.

Since the mahout’s arrest, the 19-year-old female elephant had remained mostly chained at the camp even after the appointment of a new mahout. The sources said that a committee comprising elephant experts from the Forest and Animal Husbandry Departments had recently recommended the shifting of the elephant back to the temple as being chained for long hours would impact its physical and mental health.

Following this, the Srivilliputhur Andal temple administration sent a team to the Thekkampatti camp premises on Wednesday. The elephant’s health was examined and it was then made to board a vehicle in the presence of the new mahout Subramaniam, at around 2.30 a.m. on Thursday. After eight hours of the journey, Jeyamalyatha along with the team reached the Srivilliputhur Andal temple in Virudhunagar district at around 10.30 a.m., according to the sources.

Mr. Subramaniam will continue to be the new mahout for the elephant as per the directions of the temple administration. Meanwhile, the HR&CE Department will continue with its disciplinary proceedings against the previous mahout Vinil Kumar and will seek an explanation for his act, the sources said.

With the departure of Jeyamalyatha, the number of elephants in the Thekkampatti annual rejuvenation camp came down to 25. The 48-day camp is scheduled to conclude on March 27.

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