New Delhi: Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government has been left red faced after a report tabulated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) observed that Tigress Avni was not aggressive and her reaction was mistaken by an “inexperienced” shooter. Last month, Maharashtra CM Fadnavis had said that preliminary reports made available to him stated that the tigress was shot after she attacked the forest staff, who were trying to tranquillise her. Also Read - Tigress Avni's Offspring Found Injured in Forest, Undergoing Treatment
“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,” the Chief Minister had said. (Also read: ‘Tigress Shot in Self-defence,’ Says Minister) Also Read - Sundarban Tiger Reserve Set to Reopen Its Gates to Tourists as COVID-19 Lockdown Eases
Contrary to CM Fadnavis’ claim, the panel in its report said,”From the reconstruction of movement of T-1 (Tigress Avni) and final position of the body of T-1, it was moving away from the road and vehicle on its traditional walk path while it was shot. Tigress was not aggressive and showed behaviour that was natural after it was hit by a dart, and they were moving towards the direction of the animal. Tiger’s reaction was mistaken and the shot was taken in a hurry by inexperienced Asghar Ali Khan. Evidence strongly supports above observation. In view of the facts, the firing in self-defence is doubtful.” Also Read - Leopard captured by forest personnel in Bhubaneswar
There has been an uproar over the killing with Union Minister Maneka Gandhi being the most vocal of the lot. Raising questions over the killing, Maneka even went on to ask Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to consider sacking the state’s Forest minister. On his part, Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar demanded Maneka’s resignation on “moral grounds” over the death of children due to malnutrition. Maneka had earlier sought Mungantiwar’s resignation over Avni’s killing.
“Maneka Gandhi has called for my resignation though I had nothing to do with the killing of the maneater tigress. If I am to take the moral responsibility for something I have nothing to do with, our Central leader should set an example for me and resign taking moral responsibility for the death of children in the country due to malnutrition during her tenure,” he said.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray had claimed that he had learnt that Avni was killed by the government to “save” a proposed project of industrialist Anil Ambani in Yavatmal, a charge denied by the corporate group as well as a district official.