Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday ordered a probe into the killing of Pandharkawada Tigress T1, who was believed to be responsible for deaths of several people, to ascertain whether “there were any lapses in the operation” by the state Forest department.
Indicating that ideally tranquiliser is induced to trap tigers, he said, “The probe will address all questions being raised by Union minister Maneka Gandhi.”
This came on a day Rahul Gandhi took a dig at the BJP government over the killing of tigress, Avni, and Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan retaliated by saying that the government does not need a certificate from the Congress president.
In Mumbai, Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar hit back at Union Women and Child Development Minister and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi a day after her criticism of the state forest department. Taking objection to a series of tweets from Maneka on the animal’s killing in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district on Friday, Mungantiwar said, “If Maneka Gandhi had spent 50 paise to make one phone call to me, she would have been furnished with all factual details related to death of T1.”
Mungantiwar also asked, “Why did Maneka Gandhi not raise any questions when Shafath Ali Khan killed a tiger in her constituency, Pilibhit, in 2009? Or why is she silent on villagers beating a forest officer and lynching a tiger to death in Uttar Pradesh recently?”
Maneka had on Sunday tweeted, “It is nothing but a straight case of crime. Despite several requests from many stakeholders, (Sudhir) Mungantiwar, Minister for…gave orders for the killing.”
Asked about Maneka’s statements, Fadnavis said the Union minister had used “harsh words”.
On Monday morning, Rahul Gandhi took a pot shot at the BJP government. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, he tweeted, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Reacting to the barb, Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said on the sidelines of an event, according to PTI, “The Central government does not need a certificate from Rahul Gandhi. The kind of seriousness, depth and honesty that the Central government works with, I think no other prior government has done it like this.”
Asked whether his ministry has sought a report, Vardhan said, “This is a natural process. Whenever there is any incident, report comes to the department.”
Speaking with reporters in Mumbai, Fadnavis said, according to PTI, “There is no happiness over the killing. The Forest Department took the decision since she had killed 13 to 14 people. There are some doubts regarding whether the tigress was first shot and then the dart (tranquiliser) inserted —- this aspect will be probed.”
Fadnavis also said, “We speak of increasing tiger population and conserving wildlife, and then unfortunately such a decision had to be taken. The tiger is a gentleman. He attacks only if his habitat is violated. Preliminary reports with me say the tigress attacked the forest department team and she was shot in self-defence.” —(with PTI inputs)