A day after Union Minister Maneka Gandhi lashed out at Maharashtra Minister for Environment and Forests Sudhir Mungantiwar over the killing of tigress Avni (T1), Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Monday that she used “harsh words” and procedural lapses, if any, in the shooting will be probed. The tigress was shot Friday night by sharp-shooter Asgar Ali in Yavatmal district.
Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, Fadnavis said, “She (Maneka) has used harsh words. But her sentiments should be understood. All animal lovers’ sentiments are harsh regarding this incident. It was a difficult decision. Whether the procedure was correct or not will be checked.”
The preliminary reports state the tigress was shot in self-defence by the forest staff after she attacked them while they were trying to tranquilise her, Fadnavis said.
“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 inserted, this aspect will be probed.
“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,” the Maharashtra CM said.
On the controversy over the hiring of marksman Asgar Ali, son of well-known sharpshooter Nawab Shafat Ali, Fadnavis said: “Hunter Asghar Ali was hired by the forest department. The doubts raised regarding the killing will be verified.”
In a series of tweets targetting minister Mungantiwar on Sunday Gandhi had said, “Earlier, a dozen leopards and 300 wild boars have been killed on his directions. I am shocked that such a person is continuing to hold a ministerial position. Every time he has used the Hyderabad shooter, Shafat Ali Khan and this time his son has also appeared on the scene illegally to kill the tigress. His son was not authorised to kill. This is patently illegal.”
Earlier in the day, Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar also crossed swords with Gandhi and claimed that the latter “lacked information” on the issue.
“Instead of lodging a complaint with the chief minister, the Union minister (Maneka Gandhi), if she wants, can order a high-level inquiry by a sitting Supreme Court judge or a committee of sitting Supreme Court judges into the incident,” said Mungantiwar Monday.
with inputs from PTI