The Malappuram Police on Friday registered a case under Section 153 of the IPC against former Union Minister and BJP leader Maneka Gandhi for her ‘communal’ remark on the killing of a pregnant elephant near the edge of Silent Valley National Park at Palakkad in Kerala.

Malappuram Superintendent of Police Abdul Karim said that based on various complaints received, one FIR has been registered against Maneka Gandhi.

The Section pertains to “wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot”. It inter alia says: “Whoever malignantly, or wantonly by doing anything which is illegal, gives provocation to any person intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation will cause the offence of rioting to be committed, shall, if the offence of rioting be committed in consequence of such provocation, be punished with imprisonment….”

Days after a pregnant elephant died in Kerala after it fed on a fruit stuffed with firecrackers, BJP leader and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi had lashed out at the Kerala government for not taking any action on the “barbaric murder” of the pachyderm.

Gandhi had said that Malappuram is India’s most violent district and an elephant is killed every 3 days in Kerala. “It is a murder, Malappuram is famous such incidents, it is India’s most violent district. For instance, they throw poison on roads so that 300-400 birds and dogs die at one time,” she said.

Kerala government has, however, clarified that the incident happened in Palakkad.

Meanwhile, Gandhi’s selective remarks against the Muslim-dominated Malappuram district has ignited outrage among the people of the southern state.

In a related development, Kerala Cyber Warriors, a Facebook group, hacked a website of Maneka Gandhi’s ‘People For Animals’ NGO and posted some uncharitable remarks against her.

The hackers also accused her of deliberately bringing up Malappuram district in her statement to spread that they alleged was “communally motivated false information” targeting a particular community.

The incident is of Palakkad when a pregnant elephant had entered into a village in search of food on May 27. The villagers allegedly fed a pineapple stuffed with crackers to it. As the crackers exploded, the elephant suffered serious injuries on its tongue and mouth.

Later she walked into a river and waited for three days as its life was slowly snuffed out.

Meanwhile, it is alleged that the killing was not deliberate as the elephant had walked into a trap laid for wild boars that come to destroy the crops frequently. The same has been told to the investigators by the man arrested.

One accused in the case was arrested on Friday.

Addressing the outrage over the killing of the elephant, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had assured that the state government “will do everything possible to bring the culprits to justice”.

He, however, termed it “unfortunate” that some people were using this tragedy to unleash a hate campaign.

“Having said that, we are saddened by the fact some have used this tragedy to unleash a hate campaign. Lies built upon inaccurate descriptions and half truths were employed to obliterate the truth. Some even tried to import bigotry into the narrative. Wrong priorities,” Vijayan tweeted on Thursday.

Earlier, the Central government taking a serious note of the incident, had said that the matter will be investigated properly.