'Sita worshipped by many, Akbar efficient ruler': HC asks Bengal to rename lions | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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'Sita worshipped by many, Akbar efficient ruler': High Court asks Bengal to rename lions

Feb 22, 2024 06:44 PM IST

The court was hearing a plea by Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) over their objection to the naming of a lioness as Sita.

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday asked the West Bengal state government to rename the lion named 'Akbar' and the lioness named 'Sita', after the controversy erupted when both the wild cats were placed in the same enclosure at the Bengal Safari Park in Siliguri, reported Bar and Bench.

The five-year-old Asiatic lioness was brought to the Siliguri zoo from Tripura’s Sepahijala Zoological Park (Representative Photo)
The five-year-old Asiatic lioness was brought to the Siliguri zoo from Tripura’s Sepahijala Zoological Park (Representative Photo)

While hearing a plea by Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) over their objection to the naming of a lioness as Sita, a single-judge bench of Justice Saugata Bhattacharya urged the state to consider giving the two lions some other names to ensure that any controversy is put to rest.

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While hearing the plea, the court observed that goddess Sita is worshipped by a large majority of people in the country and Akbar was an efficient and successful Mughal emperor.

Justice Bhattacharya said, "Mr Counsel, will you yourself name your own pet after some Hindu God or Muslim Prophet ... I think, if any one of us would have been the authority, none of us would have named them as Akbar and Sita. Can anyone of us think of naming an animal after Rabindranath Tagore?"

"Sita is worshipped by a larger section of this country ... I also oppose naming the lion after Akbar. He was an efficient, successful and secular Mughal Emperor," she added.

Meanwhile the state government told the high court that the naming of two lions was done by the Tripura Zoo authorities in 2016 and 2018 before the lions were transferred to West Bengal.

The VHP had opposed the state government's decision to keep the lions together. It demanded to change the name of the lioness, contending that keeping the two lions together was disrespectful to Hindus.

The seven-year-old Asiatic lion and five-year-old Asiatic lioness were brought to the park from Tripura as a part of an animal exchange program along with other animals including two spectacled langurs, two leopard cats and four black bucks.

This is, however, not the first time that animals in Indian zoos have been named after Indian Gods and Goddesses.

Delhi Zoological Park, has a white tigress named Sita. A cheetah in Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh was named after Indian god of fire Agni.

(With inputs from Bar and Bench)

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