Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis found Union Minister Maneka Gandhi’s outburst, targeting state Forest Minister for the killing of tigress Avni (T1) “harsh” and said that procedural lapses in the shooting would be probed, said media reports on Monday.

 In a series of tweets, Maneka 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.”

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 CM had said that the preliminary reports had stated the tigress was shot in self-defence after she attacked them while they were trying to tranquilise her. “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 such a decision had to be taken. The tiger 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,” he said.

As to why marksman Asgar Ali, son of sharpshooter Nawab Shafat Ali, was roped in, Fadnavi said, “Hunter Asghar Ali was hired by the forest department. The doubts raised regarding the killing will be verified.”

Earlier, Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had also reacted to Maneka’s attack and said she “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,” he said. (With Agency Inputs)