Fadnavis: Will probe any procedural lapse in Avni’s killing
It is painful for forest department officials and employees to eliminate the big cat, Fadnavis said, but added that it was in the interest of the human populationUpdated: Nov 06, 2018 00:39 IST
After facing backlash over the killing of tigress T1, or Avni, allegedly a man-eater tigress, over the weekend, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Monday that his government will look into whether there were procedural lapses in how Avni was caught and killed, on a day when the Shiv Sena called the killing an “encounter”, and forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar lashed out at Union minister Maneka Gandhi for her critical comments a day earlier. On Sunday, Gandhi said in a tweet the killing was “nothing but a straight case of crime” and that she will take up the matter “very strongly” with Fadnavis. On Monday, Fadnavis said the forest department had got all clearances to kill the man-eating tigress, from a high level committee, and according to guidelines laid down under the National Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA).
It is painful for forest department officials and employees to eliminate the big cat, Fadnavis said, but added that it was in the interest of the human population. “The department had taken permission from the NTCA, as the tigress had killed 13 people, including tribals,” the CM said. “Doubts are being raised over whether procedure was followed, with some activists asking if the tigress was first shot, and then the tranquiliser dart was inserted in its body. This, too, will be examined,” he said. The role of the shooter will also be examined, he said.
According to preliminary reports, Avni was killed only after she attacked staff members who were trying to tranquilise her.
Mungantiwar, however, said the department was ready to face any probe by a national or international agency. “The attack by our honourable Union minister Maneka Gandhi has been out of ignorance,” he said, “It has damaged the morale of the forest department, which has been doing a wonderful job in tiger conservation. Instead of resorting to social media, had she called me, I would have explained everything. Her claim that I gave the order to kill T1 and I have given three such orders during my tenure is false. The order to kill any maneater is never given by the minister, but by a committee headed by the principal chief conservator of Forest (wildlife) as per the guidelines of the NTCA,” he said.
Mungantiwar also hit out at Maneka Gandhi over her objection to depute the shooter Shafat Ali Khan, saying the same tiger shooter was deputed in her Lok Sabha constituency, Pilibhit, in Uttar Pradesh in 2009. He said the forest department of the state had felicitated the shooter. He said that only five maneater tigers have been killed since 1995, and only one in his tenure.
CM Fadnavis said while Gandhi’s words were harsh, her concerns should be taken positively. “She is a hardcore animal lover. Though the words are harsh, those are out of her serious concerns towards the tigers,” he said. The Shiv Sena took on its ally over the killing and termed it an “encounter”.
The Sena also said that while the government ends up “killing” the common man through its policies on unemployment, drought, famine, farmers loan and other issues, no one calls it a “man-eater”. However, a tigress is labelled a “man-eater” and thus killed. The Sena’s comments were in an editorial in Saamana, its mouthpiece, on Monday.
Later in the day, senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut asked if bullets should be sprayed on the government for the suicides of farmers in the last four years. “Avni was shot dead in Yavatmal. A shooter was brought in from Hyderabad for this. There have been many encounters in the state; many of them were fake. The tigress could have been saved by some other way, but the forest minister did not listen. Many farmers have committed suicide in the last four years, then should we shoot down the government too,” Raut asked.
First Published: Nov 06, 2018 00:39 IST