A final report on the killing of Tigress Avni in Maharashtra last month exposes loopholes in sharpshooter Ashgar Ali Khan’s theory that that it was killed in self-defence, The Times of India (TOI) reported.
The report by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), accessed by TOI, exposes Asghar's glaring lapses and violations of Section 3(1) of the Arms Act, 1958; the Indian Veterinary Co Council Act, 1984; the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and NTCA Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
The two-member committee that was constituted on 8 November, comprised of retired additional additional principal chief conservator of forests O P Kaler and NGO Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) member Jose Louies. The report was submitted on 27 November.
Believed to have killed 13 people since 2016, Tigress Avni was shot dead in Maharashtra's Yavatmal on 2 November. The Maharashtra government reportedly claimed that since “Avni had consumed 60 percent of human bodies, she was rightly classified as a man-eater”.
“We've submitted the findings without any dilution, and sought a response from the state government and PCCF (wildlife). After their reply, the report will be made public. There are serious lapses and violation of NTCA Arms Act and Wildlife Act in the T1 killing,” NTCA member secretary Anup Kumar Naik told TOI.
According to the report, forester Mukhbir Sheikh was appointed only to spot and identify the tiger, not dart it. Moreover, the medicine which was in the dart was stored in it for over 56 hours against the authorised time period of 24 hours.
The report also states that the tigress was moving away from the vehicle while she was darted. After darting, she moved towards the vehicle as she showed natural aggression. Avni was then shot within seconds of darting and there was hardly any time given for the medicine to take effect.
The report also states that Asghar was inexperienced for such an operation and used an unauthorised weapon.
The killing of Avni had created ripples across political lines with Union Minister Menaka Gandhi demanding the removal of Maharashtra’s Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had assured that a fair probe will be conducted in the matter.
(With inputs from TOI)
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