Two people were booked on Saturday in connection with the hunting of a Royal Bengal tiger that was found dead two days ago at Baghghora forest in Lalgarh, West Midnapore. “We have registered a complaint against two people who are suspected to have been present when the incident took place,” said Chief Wildlife Warden Ravi Kant Sinha.
Bablu Hansda (36) and Badal Hansda (19) were admitted in Midnapore Medical College and Hospital with “tiger attack” injuries, said police. Forest department officials have also received a primary autopsy report, which confirmed the tiger had been hunted using a sharp weapon.
The carcass had been found by a district forest team on Friday, a few after tribals of the area celebrate Shikaar Utsob (Hunting Festival). Police sources said that after it was found, they had received information about a group of youths having gone to the forest on Friday morning, where they had allegedly spotted the tiger roaming near a creek. They were also informed that Bablu and Badal had been admitted to the hospital the same day with “tiger attack” injuries.
“We keep telling people to conserve wildlife animals through awareness campaigns. It’s sad that despite such efforts, people are still killing them. In this case we have got information that a group of people hunted the tiger in the village. An inquiry has been ordered and the guilty will be punished under Wildlife Protection Act,” said Forest Minister Binay Krishna Barman.
Meanwhile, the Opposition questioned the competency of the forest department, asking why it had not been able to capture the tiger alive. Left Front leader Biman Bose said, “It is definitely a failure of the forest department. It should have deployed more forces to locate the tiger and they should have taken suggestions from experts. They didn’t make enough arrangements to capture it and hence it was killed. It is sad that they have started blaming the Adivasi community for this even before investigation.”
“The chief minister is personally looking into the inquiry of this case. Who killed it and why it wasn’t found alive, is part of the investigation,” said Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee. The forest department has informed the National Tiger Conservation Authority about the incident. State Forest Minister Binay Krishna Burman said he has sought a report.
The elusive tiger had been under surveillance ever since it was spotted in the forest on March 2 in Junglemahal (located 25 km from Baghghora), 107 years after a tiger’s presence was last recorded in the area. Since then, it had been tracked as moving between the districts of West Midnapore, Jhargram and Bankura, in a 30-35 km range.