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.
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 will take up the matter very strongly with CM Maharashtra Shri @Dev_Fadnavis ji.— Maneka Gandhi (@Manekagandhibjp) November 4, 2018
"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.
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. #Justice4TigressAvni— Maneka Gandhi (@Manekagandhibjp) November 4, 2018
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.
I fail to understand why a state government should even bother about such a man let alone hire his services for illegal and inhuman acts.— Maneka Gandhi (@Manekagandhibjp) November 4, 2018
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.
Sad Day.China has reversed Ban on Tiger/Rhino products for medicinal uses.While on home ground Despite all efforts,#Avni has been shot dead by the hunters, a leopard killed in Hit in run in Virar,Idiocy Reigns.Losing battle for our wildlife in Man Politics and Animal conflict.— Raveena Tandon (@TandonRaveena) November 3, 2018
Others also reacted to the killing, condemning the human nature that entitles the species to think of the nature as their own.
On one hand, we promote tiger conversation, and the other, murder an animal in cold blood?— Priya Adivarekar (@priyaadivarekar) November 4, 2018
Sorry, Avni! Humans beings, with the selfish power to eliminate other species and greed to take over their land, have let you down. Rest in peace!
What a disgraceful act! Shame. pic.twitter.com/SYZcezY7zQ
A time for the most evolved creature - human being, to introspect and answer some questions. Sadly though, nothing can bring #Avni back to her cubs and to the wild. It is T-1 now forever #Tminus1#Avnithetigress https://t.co/Ryufzmci20— Priyanka (@PriyankaKorde) November 4, 2018
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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