The Gujarat Forest Department on Thursday ordered an inquiry after pictures of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja posing in front of a pride of Asiatic lions at Gir forest went viral on social media.
Jadeja, who is a native of Jamnagar district in Saurashtra region of Gujarat, was at Sasan Gir in Junagadh district on Tuesday and Wednesday. He went on a lion safari in the tourism zone of Gir National Park and Sanctuary (GNPS) during his visit.
During the safari, he reportedly got down his vehicle and posed for pictures, along with his wife, in front of a pride of lions. He also clicked selfies with fans and some forest guards. As these pictures started circulating on social media on Thursday, the forest department ordered an inquiry.
“GNPS is a protected forest and tourists are not allowed to get down from vehicles while inside the jungle. But pictures showing the cricketer having got down from vehicle in the jungle and and having taken selfies with lions are circulating on social media. Even some forest guards are seen with him in photographs. Therefore, we have ordered GNPS superintendent to conduct an inquiry into the incident and file a report,” Aniruddh Pratap Singh, chief conservator of forests (CCF) of Junagadh wildlife circle told The Indian Express.
Incidentally, the GNPS closed down for tourists on Wednesday for its annual monsoon break. The sanctuary will reopen in on October 15 after the four-month break.
The incident took place when GNPS superintendent Ram Ratan Nala was away from office attending Shala Praveshotsav, the annual school enrollment drive conducted by the state government.
“We have come to know that Jadeja got down from vehicle and took selfies with lions. Two range forest officers also happened to be in that part of the jungle at that time. We are inquiring into the incident and it is difficult at this juncture to tell what offence is made out against him. But merely getting down in the sanctuary is an offence,” said Nala.
The CCF said no time frame was set for the inquiry as the superintendent was busy with other work.
Despite repeated attempts, Jadeja could not be reached for a comment.
This is the second incident in three months where the cricketer made news for off-field incidents. His relative was booked by police for allegedly firing in the air in celebration at marriage procession of the cricketer at a hotel in Rajkot.