HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Maharashtra: minister's hunting pics sparks row

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Nagpur/Mumbai, December 15, 2012
First Published: 01:26 IST(15/12/2012) | Last Updated: 14:12 IST(15/12/2012)

When pictures of a minister dressed in a camouflage suit standing before propped up dead wild animals in a jungle holding a rifle and smiling become public, there is going to be blood on the floor. 

Minister of state for education Fauzia Khan’s family holiday in South Africa earlier this year caused uproar on the floor of the Nagpur Assembly on Friday, when her pictures uploaded on the website of Umlilo Safaris, a hunting resort, were shown by a Marathi news channel, ABP Majha. The Opposition is now gunning for her.

Khan insists that she did not kill any of the animals — a springbok, zebra, kudu, blue wildebeest and impala — she was found posing with in the pictures.

“I did not hunt any wild animals. I just posed with the animals hunted by professional hunters there. It was a family vacation and we took pictures casually,” said the NCP leader. “I regret taking those pictures. We did not break any law. Hunting is legal in that part of Africa.” But the Opposition said hunting was illegal in India.

The resort, which is a 45-minute drive from Port Elizabeth Airport, has 30 animal species on offer between March and October and encourages novice and experienced trophy hunters to enjoy a proper walk-and-stalk style hunts. The website’s picture gallery of 2012 hunts also has photographs of Khan’s family members with dead animals in the ‘trophy animals’ section. Khan’s husband, Tahseen Ahmed, is a retired state forest official.

“Our laws don’t allow hunting of wild animals. She should have behaved responsibly,” said Shiv Sena legislator Neelam Gorhe. “The government should probe if she hunted those animals and if it is true, she should resign.”

Khan swore that she was an animal lover. “We support efforts to conserve wildlife,” she said adding that her “privacy was being invaded.”

Earlier this year, the Opposition had claimed that Abu Jundal had stayed at Khan’s MLA hostel rooms in 2006. RR Patil told the legislature in July that investigating agencies had no records to prove it.

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