A THREE-MEMBER team of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) began its probe into the shooting of Pandharkawda tigress T1, nicknamed Avni, at the Sarati base camp of the Forest Department, on Tuesday.
The team comprising Hemant Kamdi of NTCA, Nagpur, O P Kaler, senior retired wildlife expert and Jose Louis, Deputy Director Wildlife Trust of India separately questioned each of the five members of the team that put down T1 on November 3 night, sources told The Indian Express. The team also visited the spot of the incident.
There have been allegations that the team led by Hyderabad-based sharp-shooter Shafath Ali Khan’s son Asghar first shot the tigress dead and then fired the tranquilising shot, while the standard operating procedure required him to do exactly the reverse.
The post-mortem had, however, not mentioned anything regarding the sequence, except an observation by a member of the team, Milind Parivakkam — in his capacity as representative of Principal Chief Cobservator of Forest (Wildlife) — that the tigress was not shot in self-defence.
Shafath Ali Khan and his son Asghar had been called from Hyderabad to Pandharkawda for the inquiry.
Later, some sarpanches of local villages reportedly went to the base camp and sought to meet the two. They then took the two to Sawarkheda village, where a felicitation function was held. Sources said the speakers heaped lavish praise on the two and termed them as their saviours. They also presented them with a life-size silver colour image of a leopard with a headless woman lying at its feet.
The NTCA team will also be talking to PCCF A K Mishra and Additional PCCF Sunil Limaye on November 15. The two had been personally supervising the T1 operation from Pandharkawda.