Fact-Check: ‘Arbaaz Khan’ Not Involved in Elephant’s Death in TN

Abhilash Mallick
·4 min read

A viral claim on the internet states that a man called “Arbaz Khan” was responsible for the death of an elephant in Tamil Nadu, who died on 19 January in Masinagudi area of Nilgiris. Visuals showing people throwing a burning object on the animal to chase it away went viral on social media.

However, we spoke with the deputy director of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, who told us that three people involved in the incident were identified and booked, and none of them was named Arbaz Khan.

CLAIM

The claim viral on the internet said in Hindi, “यह बहुत ही विचलित करने वाली घटना है
तमिलनाडु के निलीगिरी में जिहादी अरबाज खान ने जलता हुआ टायर हाथी के ऊपर फेंक दिया!
जिससे झुलस जाने के कारण इलाज के दौरान हाथी की मौत हो गई..
इन जाहिल से तो जानवर भी सुरक्षित नहीं है!
राज्य की पुलिस सो रही है क्या ऐसे लोगों को संरक्षण है क्या ?

[Translation: It is a very disturbing incident. Jihadi Arbaaz Khan threw a burning tire on the elephant in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. The elephant died because of the injuries form the burn while it was being treated. Even animals are not safe from these miscreants! State police are sleeping, do such people have protection?]

Several people shared this video with the viral claim on Facebook.

An archive of the post can be found <a href="https://perma.cc/Q9CB-BZVF" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.
An archive of the post can be found here.
An archive of the post can be found <a href="https://perma.cc/YZY3-JCM9" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.
An archive of the post can be found here.
An archive of the post can be found <a href="https://perma.cc/8RW2-6SBX" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.
An archive of the post can be found here.

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The same claim was also shared on Twitter.

An archive of the post can be found <a href="https://archive.is/psay4" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.
An archive of the post can be found here.
An archive of the post can be found <a href="https://archive.is/rxuAs" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.
An archive of the post can be found here.

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WHAT WE FOUND OUT

We conducted a Google search of the incident and found several news reports documenting the developments in the case. According to a report in The News Minute (TNM), the elephant who was already weak and docile and had “wandered out of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve zone into a residential area”.

The Quint’s WebQoof team reached out to the Deputy Director of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, LCS Srikanth, who told us that they had booked three people in the incident that occurred on 3 January.

“We have already named the three accused in the case, they are Prasanth Sugumaran, Raymond Dean and Ricky Ryan. We have arrested Raymond and Prasanth but Ryan is still absconding,” he told The Quint.

Upon being asked about the involvement of one “Arbaz Khan”, the deputy director said that this was the first time he was hearing the name in this case.

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The Nilgiris District Collector’s office and Deputy Director Srikanth also told us that the building where the burning object was thrown at the elephant was sealed. A video of that was also posted by a reporter working with ETV Bharat.

According to Srikanth, the building was owned by Raymond and Ryan’s father but because of his ill health, he was indoors during the incident.

We also reached out to KK Kaushal, additional chief conservator of forests and field director, who shared a copy of a report which has been submitted to the principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden. This report too mentioned the same names.

According to the TNM story, “the elephant had wandered into Masinagudi in the Nilgiris, a popular tourist destination, looking for food, and had been injured for more than two months when the officials found it.”

The autopsy report suggested that the elephant died because of severe injuries on the back from about two months ago, and had also suffered burn injuries on the ears, TNM reported.

Therefore, the claim that it was “Arbaz Khan” who had thrown a burning tire on the elephant, causing its death was false. The people involved in the incident have been identified and booked by the forest officials.

(With inputs from The News Minute.)

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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