‘Illegal’: Maneka Gandhi, PETA Condemn Killing of Tigress Avni

Tigress Avni, who is believed to be responsible for the deaths of 13 people in the past two years, was killed in Maharashtra's Yavatmal on Friday as part of an operation.

Avni is survived by her two cubs who are 10 months old.

She was shot dead by sharp-shooter Asgar Ali, son of famous sharp-shooter Nawab Shafat Ali, at compartment no 149 of Borati forest under the jurisdiction of the Ralegaon police station.

Dead body of tigress Avni.

Reacting to the killing of Avni, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, in a series of tweets lashed out at the Maharashtra government for giving the orders to kill her despite opposition from several stakeholders.

"I am deeply saddened by the way tigress Avni has been brutally murdered in Yavatmal," she said in a tweet.

"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," she said in another tweet.

She said she is going to take up the matter “very strongly” with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

"I am definitely going to take up this case of utter lack of empathy for animals as a test case. Legally, criminally as well as politically," she said.

She also came down heavily on Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar for giving order to private marksman Shafat Ali Khan's son to carry out the hunting operation.

"Every time he has used Hyderabad-based shooter Shafat Ali Khan, and this time his son has also appeared in the scene illegally to murder the tigress," she said in a tweet.

"Shafat Ali Khan has killed 3 tigers, at least 10 leopards, a few elephants and 300 wild boar in Chandrapur, Maharashtra. He is a criminal known for supplying guns to anti-nationals and for a suspected case of murder in Hyderabad," she said in another tweet.

She questioned Maharastra government's decision to take services of Khan and his son.

Shooting Avni was the Last Resort, It had Killed 13: Maharashtra Forest Minister

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Forest Minister Mungantiwar said that Avni was shot dead as a last resort when all attempts to tranquilise her failed and she attacked officials.

Speaking to PTI, Mungantiwar said nobody in the Forest Department wanted to kill the tigress and, thus, hundreds of personnel from the department were trying to capture her alive since the last 3 months.

Later in the day, Mungantiwar told ANI that neither him nor the Forest dept had taken the decision. He said that officials were trying to capture the tigress from the last 1.5 months. When they tranqulised her, she attacked them so they had to shoot her.

"It will be wrong to doubt the integrity of the forest officials. Thirteen people were killed and on the guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the decision to kill Avni was taken." - Sudhir Mungantiwar, Forest Minister, Maharashtra

He also said that he would have appreciated Gandhi coming up to him before speaking up on the matter.

" I would have been happy if Maneka Gandhi had talked to me before commenting on the issue."Others Condemn the Killing

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also said that the tigress was ‘killed illegally to satisfy a hunter’s lust for blood’, Daily News Analysis reported.

PETA India also urged an investigation into the killing and for it to be treated as a wildlife crime, terming it a "dark day" for the nation.

Actor Raveena Tandon also condemned the killing of Avni, terming it a sad day, she said that with such incidents, we are losing the battle for our wildlife in politics and animal conflict.

Others also reacted to the killing, condemning the human nature that entitles the species to think of the nature as their own.

In September, the Supreme Court had said Avni could be shot at sight, which prompted a flurry of online petitions seeking pardon for the tigress.

(With inputs from PTI, ANI and DNA.)

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