Defiant Maharashtra minister softens on tiger episode | india | Hindustan Times
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Defiant Maharashtra minister softens on tiger episode

Thorat – who was in the midst of a raging controversy for entering a tiger cub enclosure at Nagpur’s Maharajbagh Zoo on August 15 and was under fire by animal rights activists – is now regretful. Pradip Kumar Maitra reports.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2009 18:56 IST
Pradip Kumar Maitra

Once defiant Maharashtra Agriculture minister Balasaheb Thorat is now apologetic. Thorat – who was in the midst of a raging controversy for entering a tiger cub enclosure at Nagpur’s Maharajbagh Zoo on August 15 and was under fire by animal rights activists – is now regretful.

According to available information, the minister has apologised and admitted that he had erred by entering in the tiger enclosure. Thorat is believed to have spoken to the union minister of state for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh after a meeting of environment ministers in New Delhi recently.

Thorat, however, talking to Hindustan Times, maintained that his intentions were good and he was at the zoo for discussing zoo development plan with the zoo authorities.

On the other hand, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has virtually given the minister a clean chit and held zoo authorities responsible for allowing the VIP enter the tiger enclosure.The minister himself did not go into enclosure but it was the zoo caretaker who insisted that the minister should enter the cage where the eight-month old tiger cub was kept, BR Sharma, CZA member secretary, who visited Maharajbagh here for a spot investigation pointed out.

He said, “There was no need to go so near to the tiger cub or touch it. The zoo administration should have briefed the minister about the activities of the zoo, and should have dissuaded him from entering the tiger cage.”

According to Sharma, the issue was not a big one. The minister could have been booked under the wildlife protection act for violation if the minister had entered the enclosure despite the zoo officials’ attempts to dissuade him. Being the pro vice-chancellor of the Agriculture University that runs the zoo, the minister has every right to visit the zoo, he said.

Sharma indicated that the CZA would initiate action against the Maharajbagh zoo authorities for allowing the minister and his associates into the enclosure of a tiger. It seems that the Maharajbagh zoo in-charge SS Bawaskar, who was instrument for inviting the minister into the enclosure of the tiger, is likely to draw flak from the CZA.

Earlier, the local zo authorities and the city police also had given a clean chit to the minsiter on the controversial issue.