Actor-turned-politician and Makal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan on Saturday criticised those involved in the death of an elephant in Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiri district, asking how people have developed the “habit of burning a hapless animal alive”.

The elephant, which had strayed into human habitat, was being chased away by people at a resort. One of them threw a burning tyre to scare the elephant away, but the tyre got stuck to its ear. A video circulating on social media shows the elephant fleeing the spot and trumpeting in pain.

“We destroyed forests to create human habitations but completely forgot the plight of animals that were rendered homeless,” Haasan tweeted in Tamil. “This despite the fact that the elephant stepped back? Is this called civilisation? The scream of the elephant is still ringing in my ears. We bow our heads in shame.”

A Supreme Court lawyer has also written to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde asking him to intervene in repeated instances of cruelty towards animals. “The video of the tragic incident as above which happened today and reported on TV channels would shock the conscience of any human being,” lawyer Mathews J Nedumpara wrote in his letter to Bobde, reported NDTV.

Nedumpara had also petitioned the Supreme Court after a pregnant elephant died in Palakkad district of Kerala in June after eating a pineapple stuffed with fireworks. The incident had sparked outrage across the country and prompted a criminal investigation into cruelty towards animals.

“I am sure your lordship has even greater compassion for animals and would consider your Lordship’s constitutional duty to do whatever is humanly possible to bring an end to the horrifying cruelty to animals and would be gracious enough to treat this letter at the hands of my humble self as a petition under Article 32 dispensing with all procedural formalities, notwithstanding my total insignificance,” the lawyer’s letter read, according to NDTV.

Tamil Nadu’s forest department officials had first found the elephant in November, before it was injured, but it was captured for treatment in December and then released. In January, the animal moved close to a human habitat. After this, the incident occurred where the elephant was burnt.

On Tuesday, the officials had arranged transport to take the animal away for treatment, but it died on the way. The postmortem report showed that the elephant had sustained severe injuries to its left ear, left side of its head, left front leg and trunk.

Two people – Raymond, the owner of the resort, and Prashant, a staffer – have been arrested by the forest officials. Another accused, Ricky Rayan, is still missing.