Addressing the widespread outrage over the killing of a pregnant elephant in Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday informed that an investigation is underway “focusing on three suspects” and added that the government “will do everything possible to bring the culprits to justice”.

“Many of you have reached out to us. We want to assure you that your concerns will not go in vain. Justice will prevail,” he said in a tweet.

The incident is of Palakkad when a pregnant elephant had entered into a village in search of food on May 27. But the villagers 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.

The investigation is being jointly carried out by the police and the forest department, the chief minister said. The district police chief and the district forest officer visited the site today.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan further said that the state government is trying to address the causes behind the increased incidences of human-wildlife conflict and added that climate change could be adversely affecting both the local communities and animals.

Terming it as “unfortunate”, he said 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.

He further asserted that “Kerala is a society that respects the outrage against injustice.”

The Kerala Forest department has launched a ‘manhunt’ for those responsible for the death of the 15-year-old pregnant wild elephant.

Even as the forest officials are tight-lipped on the progress of their investigation, it is learnt that two persons have been taken into custody.

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

“We will not leave any stone unturned to investigate properly and nab the culprits, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said, while adding that “it is not an Indian culture to feed fire crackers and kill”.

“Environment Ministry has taken a serious note of the death of an elephant in Kerala. Has sought complete report on the incident. Stern action will be taken against the culprit(s),” he said.

Kerala Forest Minister K Raju also warned of strict action against the culprits responsible for the killing of the pregnant elephant.

He further clarified that the shocking incident happened in Kerala’s Palakkad and not Malappuram as claimed by BJP leader Maneka Gandhi.

Animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi had on Wednesday lashed out at the Kerala government for not taking any action on a pregnant elephant’s barbaric “murder” in Malappuram.

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.