Ramdas Kadam raises demand of probe into killing of tigress Avni
The issue of tigress Avni's killing figured in the Maharashtra cabinet meeting on Tuesday with senior Shiv Sena leader and Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam seeking a judicial inquiry into the case.
Senior BJP leader and Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, however, said he was not aware of the issue being discussed during the meeting. Talking to reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting, Kadam said he raised the issue of the tigress' killing and demanded a judicial probe.
When contacted, Mungantiwar said, "When I came for the meeting, nobody spoke about it. I am not aware of the issue was raised in my absence."
The BJP-led state government has come under fire over the death of the tigress, who was believed to have turned a man-eater and killed 13 people in the last two years in Yavatmal district. The big cat was shot dead in an operation in a forest in Yavatmal district last Friday.
The killing of T1, as the tigress was officially known, led to an outrage among animal lovers and wildlife organisations. Shiv Sena chief president Uddhav Thackeray had described as "farce" the committee constituted by the state government to probe the killing of Avni.
He had demanded that a panel be formed under a retired judge to probe the tigress' killing. "Those who had given the 'supari' (contract) to kill the tigress have been made members of the (probe) committee. The committee set up is a farce," Thackeray had said on Saturday.
Taking a dig at senior ally BJP, Thackeray said if Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis backed state Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar saying he could not be held responsible for the killing, why did Prime Minister Narendra Modi take credit for the surgical strike, when he had not himself conducted it.
The state government had Friday constituted a four-member committee, comprising wildlife experts and officials, to conduct an "in-depth" probe into the tigress' killing.
It is headed by Principal Chief Conservator of Forest S H Patil. It includes Wildlife Institute of India member Habib Bilal, Wildlife Conservation Trust chairman Anish Andheriya and Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Nitin Kakodkar, an official statement from the forest department issued earlier said.
The committee will probe if established protocols and standard operating practices were followed in the case, and submit a report to the government. Union minister Maneka Gandhi had lashed out at the state government over Avni's killing and dubbed it as a "ghastly murder".
Avni was the mother of two 10-month-old cubs. The Maharashtra government, however, defended itself calling the incident "sad but necessary" after the tigress attacked forest staff trying to tranquilise it.
(With inputs from agencies.)