What rules were violated while killing T1 tigress, Maharashtra government asks probe panel

Hindustan Times | By, Mumbai
Jan 31, 2019 07:55 AM IST

Panel, in its Dec 2018 report, had sought action against hunters Asghar and Shafath Ali Khan

The Maharashtra government has asked the committee that investigated the killing of tigress T-1 for details of the violations by the hunters that were hired by the forest department to shoot the animal, suspected of being a man-eater.

T1 tigress before she was killed on November 2.(HT FILE)
T1 tigress before she was killed on November 2.(HT FILE)

Forest department officials said they have written to the member secretary of the committee on Monday. “Once we receive the details, action can be initiated against the hunters and others involved in the case based on consultation with the state law and judiciary department,” said Virendra Tiwari, additional principal chief conservator of forest (APCCF), Mantralaya.

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Nitin Kakodkar, member secretary of state committee and recently appointed as the new chief wildlife warden (CWLW), Maharashtra, said, “While the forest department has communicated the details verbally, the official letter is yet to reach me. Once I see it, I can respond and take the matter forward.”

In a report submitted in December 2018, the committee had directed the state government to prosecute hunters Asghar and Shafath Ali Khan for allegedly violating several laws when killing T1, popularly known as Avni. Avni was shot to death on November 2, 2018. HT had reported on January 20 that the committee’s report said the hunters may have subsequently tampered with evidence. It also said the decision to assign the task of hunting Avni to the Khan father-son duo was taken by the chief conservator of forest (territorial), after being told to do so by the CWLW, a violation of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972.

“We have asked the state committee to clarify which sections have been violated, especially under the Arms Act and NDPS Act,” said Tiwari.

Meanwhile, an investigating officer from Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) said seven legal notices had been issued to the hunters. “We are awaiting directions from the state to initiate punitive action against the hunters since they have been making baseless excuses such as delays due to elections and constraints from their state forest department,” the officer said.

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    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

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