Ten panchayats in Kerala's Idukki district are observing a 12-hour hartal (strike) from 6 AM to 6 PM on Thursday demanding to capture a wild tusker who has destroyed several human settlements.
The 'hartal' is being observed at Marayur, Munnar, Devikulam, Kanthalloor, Vattavada, Edamalakkudy, Bisonvalley, Udumbanchola, Santhanpara and Chinnakkanal panchayats.
The hartal is being staged as a displeasure against the Kerala High Court which constituted a five-member expert committee to advise the court on options other than capturing the tusker 'Arikomban' that has reportedly killed 7 people and destroyed several human settlements.
The court also ordered that the Kerala Forest Department attach a radio collar to track the tusker's movements.
After the court's order, the joint action council which was leading the local protests to capture the tusker called for a 12-hour panchayat-level hartal.
Arikomban, a wild tusker used to stray into human settlements and attack people while on a search for rice (Ari in Malayalam means rice, so the name Arikomban).
Following the protests from locals, the district administration had taken unprecedented precautions for the capture of this elephant, as the area of operation is located inside human settlements.
Meanwhile, a petition was moved in Kerala High Court on March 23 against capturing Arikomban. The court stayed the mission till March 29 and constituted an expert committee to advise the court on this issue.
The people belonging to two tribal colonies residing majorly in these panchayats are the main victims of the tusker's attacks.
On Wednesday night also, the locals staged a protest by blocking roads. (ANI)