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As the torture of the leased elephant in a Tamil Nadu temple garnered huge outrage, the Gauhati high court on Friday directed the Tamil Nadu government to allow the Assam team to inspect the Srivilliputhur temple elephant Joymala.

Notably, named Joymala, was given on lease to the Tamil Nadu temple by a person in Assam in 2008. Following a viral video of the elephant being tortured by a mahout, the Assam government filed a petition in Gauhati High Court for the custody of Joymala from the Tamil Nadu government last week.

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In the case, the Gauhati HC directed the Tamil Nadu chief secretary, additional chief secretary, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), and the DGP to permit the team from Assam to visit the temple where Joymala is kept and also directed to provide adequate security to the team.

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"The court issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu government to provide arrangements for the team of Assam who is staying in Chennai to inspect the health condition of Joymala and other eight elephants," Advocate General of Assam Devajit Lon Saikia told ANI.

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Tamil Nadu refuses to return elephants to Assam

It is worth noting that the decision came a day after the Tamil Nadu government denied to return of the elephants it had taken from Assam.

In another hearing of the case related to the incident in Madras High Court, Tamil Nadu additional advocate general J Ravindran made it clear that the government is not pondering upon sending back Joymala to Assam.

Following the noncooperation of the Tamil Nadu government, Assam also opted for a legal way to bring back its elephants, especially the temple elephant Joymala which the state had given to Tamil Nadu on lease. According to the Assam government, it had leased nine elephants, including Joymala, to Tamil Nadu.

The battle for elephant custody began after a video claiming the torture of the elephant by Mahouts was released by the animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). However, the Tamil Nadu government has denied these accusations.

Environment Ministry endorses Tamil Nadu's claim 

The Ministry of Environment and Forest has stepped into the matter and has endorsed Tamil Nadu's claim that Joymala is doing well.

"Several disturbing videos of Joyamala are being circulated on social media recently, but these videos are old. The latest inspection report issued on the matter shows that the elephant is doing well now and is in healthy condition. The present team taking good care of Joymala," the Ministry tweeted.

But the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest of the Assam state MK Yadava, citing a reference from a Tamil Nadu government letter, said that the TN had accepted that Joymala was tortured earlier but she is fine now.

(With inputs from ANI)

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