Delhi’s Missing Elephant Laxmi Found After 2 Months, Mahout Held

After missing for almost two months, Delhi's lone elephant Laxmi was found by the police on Wednesday, 18 August, on the banks of river Yamuna near Akshardaham.

Manhout Saddam, who had been on the run along with the 35-year-old elephant, has been held by the Delhi Police and is currently lodged at Shakarpur police station.

Speaking to The Quint, a police official who was involved in the operation, said:

"“We had been planning to lay the trap to rescue Laxmi after we received a tip-off a couple of days ago. We found Saddam and Laxmi in Yamuna around 12:30 am. Laxmi is being kept in the police station for now.”" - Delhi Police official

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Saddam is being booked under IPC sections 186 (Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) and 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty).

The owner, Yusuf Ali, and his elder son, who fled with Laxmi in July, are still on the run, officials told The Quint.

WHY LAXMI NEEDED TO BE 'RESCUED'

In July 2017, the Delhi High Court, based on the recommendations of an expert committee report, ordered that all the elephants in Delhi should be moved out of the city.

It observed that the elephants suffered from poor health here and were kept in bad conditions.

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According to Captive Elephant Welfare, India has approximately 3,500 elephants in captivity, out of which seven belonged to registered owners in capital city Delhi.

All seven owners moved court. But earlier this year, by July, six elephants were rehomed to designated areas in and around Haryana, but for Laxmi.

When the forest officials when to Laxmi's house to seize the animal, the owners and the manhout allegedly assaulted the officers and fled with her.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO LAXMI NOW

While the elephant has been approved to be relocated to Haryana's Ban Santoyr facility, the elephant may not be in the condition to be moved immediately.

Lodged in police station for now, Laxmi is expected to undergo a complete check-up by veterinary doctors, as reports claim that she has been infected with Herpes and is need of immediate medical attention.

LAXMI’S HIDEOUT IN DELHI

Speaking to The Indian Express on 17 September, the owner of the elephant, Yusuf, said that both Saddam and Laxmi had not left the capital for the last two months.

He insisted that his family was unwilling to handover Laxmi as his family has developed an “emotional bond”.

Yusuf, a few days ago, reported that both the caretaker and elephant had never left Delhi. He also said that he could not give Laxmi up because of the emotional attachment and bond that his family had formed with her over the years.

He claimed that he has been hiding the elephant near the banks of Yamuna and he kept shifting homes to evade police arrest.

“It has been a very difficult time. I had to take proper care of Laxmi and it was all right if there was no food at home, but for her, I would arrange a 500-litre water tanker every day, along with sugarcane and jowar,” he told the newspaper.

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