Malappuram is not in the Wild West, Madam Maneka Gandhi: Open Letter

This scathing open letter on face book exposes not just the ill-informed rants of the former minister and BJP Member of Parliament (MP) from Sultanpur, Maneka Gandhi but challenges her and her party to please enact a law not to use elephants (or cranes) in public gatherings, festivals and processions, which the writer says will get all Kerala’s support


The extraordinary vile and hate-filled remarks of a former minister of the Modi cabinet and sitting member of parliament from Sultanpur, Maneka Gandhi has drawn fair amount of criticism and protest over the past few days. In this open letter on Facebook, the writer gives Gandhi a taste of the rich and diverse cultural history of Kerala.

Text of the Open Letter:

Dear Smt. Maneka Gandhi,

I am sorry that my conscience has forced me to write this letter to you. The reason is your oral statement given to ANI on the issue of a pregnant elephant in Kerala falling prey to a trap laid for wild boars.

Let me also admit that I am not sure how the elephant died. Since the Kerala Government has registered a case and investigation is on, let us wait for the unravelling of the truth.

What surprised me is the content of your staccato statement. First, I will not find fault with your pronunciation of the name Malappuram because for many people in the North Kerala is KArela (bitter gourd). Kera means coconut and Kerala means the land of coconut.

However, I cannot give you the benefit of the doubt when you wrongly spelt the name of Malappuram in your tweet which became viral. I, for instance, do not know the correct spelling of the name Pietermaritzburg where Gandhi was thrown out of the train in South Africa. Then, how did I write it correctly? I consulted Google Guru as Narendra Modi calls the giant Internet search engine.

If you had been a little more careful, you would not have indulged in your diatribe against Malappuram district. Then you would have found that the elephant died not in Malappuram but in Palakkad. Both are adjoining districts.

I know your aversion for Malappuram. When the district was created by the second EMS Ministry, the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the forerunner of your party, unleashed a protest against the decision.

Since there was no grassroots support for the cause in Kerala though it was led by Kerala Gandhi, K Kelappan and Congress veteran Moidu Maulvi, the party had to bring people from as far away as Delhi.

One such person who came to Kerala, courted arrest, earned a name for himself and became big in the party was the late Madan Lal Khurana who became Chief Minister of Delhi.

After that, hundreds of new districts were created in the country. The BJP never opposed any of them. Why was an exception made in the case of Malappuram? I can tell you Madam, it was because Malappuram is a Muslim-majority district.

It would be a self-education for you if you listen to your own statement. You say many things about Malappuram and Kerala. You say that Malappuram is the most “disturbed” district in the country.

On what basis do you say this? I have statistics which suggest that more incidents of crime happen in the constituency you represent in Parliament than Malappuram. You say that every day something horrible is reported from the district. You also say that not only are all kinds of animals killed, people are also maimed in communal incidents that happen there almost everyday.

You make a sweeping statement that thousands of women are killed there. What is the basis of this accusation? Now let me tell you something. You are originally from Punjab. Unfortunately, Punjab and Haryana have the worst male-female ratio in the country thanks to the widely prevalent practice of female foeticide.

Amartya Sen has written about the missing daughters. I call the phenomenon “murder in the womb”. Nuh is a Muslim-majority district in Haryana. It has the best male-female ratio in the region. Why? Muslims do not practice selective abortion. They welcome children as gifts of God.

In any case, Kerala was the only state where there were more women than men. Malappuram is not an exception. You say Malappuram is violence-prone. When Bombay burnt in the wake of your party’s Ayodhya campaign, Malappuram remained peaceful.

You accuse the Kerala Government of being under the thraldom of Malappuram. It is just a district like many others. All laws, including your famous anti-triple talaq law, are applicable to Malappuram. Just a question, the first thing that your government did on returning to power in 2019 was enactment of the law. Modi claimed that it was to liberate Muslim women. Please find out how many Muslim women were liberated during the last one year.

You have elaborated on how elephants are treated in Kerala, including Malappuram. They are fed nails so that they develop gangrene and die and the owner can claim insurance money. You say that elephants are forced to take part in processions and festivals.

You also say that when elephants express their displeasure over their forced participation in such celebrations they are shot. When the grandfather of your late husband visited Ranni in Kerala to take part in an election campaign, he was received in grand style by caparisoned elephants.

While Nehru was addressing the gathering, someone disturbed an elephant and there was a stampede. My mother who was pregnant somehow escaped the stampede. I was clutching at her hand when she ran away from the MS High School Maidan.

If you and your party have the guts, please enact a law not to use elephants in public gatherings, festivals and processions. I will definitely support you. They should also not be used as cranes. I am sure no Muslim will oppose such a law.

You accuse the Kerala Government of posting only “useless” people in the Forest Department. You name a lady IAS officer who is the Secretary to the government and an IFS officer who is the Chief Conservator of Forests and the Forest Minister.

I purposely do not name them here as I do not want to add to their embarrassment. On what basis do you call them “useless”? You say that “600 elephants are killed/die in Kerala every year, that is one elephant every third day”. Any Class 1 or 2 student in Kerala will tell you that if an elephant dies once in three days, the number of elephants which die in Kerala in a year is only 122.

Yet, you have the audacity to call senior IAS/IFS officers as “useless”. When you say that 600 elephants die in Kerala, it makes no sense. Of course, if they are killed, it is a different matter.

In Delhi, not a single elephant dies in a year. Why? Because there are no elephants in the state. Do you know that not a single dog dies in Antarctica because only penguins are found there?

Kerala has a large population of elephants. Hence more elephants die there. Please do not expose your ignorance on such matters.

Let me conclude this letter by pointing out that Malappuram is also famous for the Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala. It has a state-of-the-art Ayurvedic Hospital. They have treatment to rejuvenate both mind and body. I am sure you would find it an unforgettable experience as my former colleague and former member of the Planning Commission Syeda Hameed found out.

While you are in Malappuram, you should also visit the birthplace of Thunchathu Ezhuthachan, who is considered the father of Malayalam. It was he who translated Valmiki’s Ramayana into Malayalam.

You will also find that the people of Malappuram are as considerate, law-abiding and generous as people anywhere in Kerala. For your information, you will find nowhere in India the palliative care movement as strong as in Malappuram.

Yours etc

AJ Phillip




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