The killing of tigress Avni was a sad incident and any procedural lapse in it would be probed, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said Monday.
The tigress, T1, as she was known officially, was shot Friday night by sharp-shooter Asgar Ali in compartment number 149 of Borati forest under the jurisdiction of Ralegaon Police Station in the state’s Yavatmal district.
Speaking to reporters here, 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.”
Fadnavis added that preliminary reports made available to him state the tigress was shot after she attacked the forest staff trying to tranquilise her.
“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.
“Hunter Asghar Ali was hired by the forest department. The doubts raised regarding the killing will be verified,” he added.
When asked on Union Minister Maneka Gandhi’s statements on the tigress’ killing, Fadnavis said the former had used “harsh words”.
In a series of tweets on Sunday Gandhi had said, “It is nothing but a straight case of crime. Despite several requests from many stakeholders, (Sudhir) Mungantiwar, minister for forests, Maharashtra, gave orders for the killing.”
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.”
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.
Speaking on other issues, Fadnavis attacked the opposition for targeting his government on drought relief.
“One cannot wake up those who behave as if they are asleep. Drought relief in terms of financial compensation is given after a central team makes a visit.
“There are some talukas which don’t appear in the list of those with severe or moderate drought but still received less than 75 percent rainfall. The state government will help them through State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF),” Fadnavis informed.
He said so far 49.5 lakh farmers had benefited due to the Rs 21,000-crore farm loan waiver.
Responding to a question on the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, Fadnavis said it was not an election issue for the BJP.
“The matter is in public discourse now, since it is being heard in the Supreme Court and is listed for hearing in January 2019,” he said.
Fadnavis, speaking on the threat of water scarcity in the state, said larger reservoirs had enough water.
He hit out at the opposition parties for their tirade against the state government for depletion of groundwater reserves and mocked them by stating that “water doesn’t grow beneath the ground”.