T1 killing: State, NTCA, hunters get HC notices
The Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday issued notices to hunters Asghar Ali Khan, his father Shafath, the Maharashtra government, the forest department, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the Yavatmal district administration regarding the killing of tigress T1 or Avni in November 2018.
The respondents have to submit their reply within eight weeks of the order date.
The bench had recently admitted two separate public interest litigations (PIL) filed by Mumbai-based non-government organisations regarding the issue.
Both petitions will be clubbed and decided together during the next hearing of the case.
One of the petitions was filed by Chembur-based Earth Brigade Foundation, demanding a special investigation team (SIT) be constituted to probe the “illegal” killing of the tigress. The PIL highlights that the state government’s investigation committee report mentions the darting of the tigress was unauthorised and the drugs used to tranquillise the animal were handled by unauthorised persons.
Jogeshwari-based Bezubaan Public Welfare Trust, which filed the second PIL, has sought directions from the court to register a first information report (FIR) against the respondents under various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. It also sought that the act of eliminating the tigress be declared illegal and unauthorised.
“It took us four months since we filed the petition in January for the court to admit it. Now, we will fight until Avni’s killers are put behind bars and her cubs get justice,” said Hema Chowdari, trustee of Bezubaan.
The state government said it was aware of the petitions. “The matter is being discussed internally and details are being collated. We will submit our responses within the stipulated time frame,” said Virendra Tiwari, additional principal chief conservator of forest (Mantralaya), Maharashtra forest department.
The hunters were hired by the forest department to tranquillise or kill Avni, suspected to have become a man-eater. On November 2, tigress T1 was shot dead by a team, including the Khans, near the Borati-Warud road in Pandharkawada forest in Yavatmal. T1 is said to have killed 13 people since June 2016, which forced the forest department to initiate a hunt for the tigress.