Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Wednesday claimed he was told that the state government had killed tigress Avni in an area that is the proposed site of businessman Anil Ambani’s project, reports said. The “man-eating tigress” was killed by the Maharashtra forest department in Yavatmal district on November 2.
While a spokesperson for Ambani’s company claimed that the group has no project in Yavatmal, an unidentified district official said that the site of the proposed Ambani project is far away from where the tigress was killed, PTI reported.
Speaking to reporters, Thackeray rebuked Maharashtra Forests Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar for giving orders to kill the animal and criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government’s handling of the matter. “Have they [BJP] sold the country to Anil Ambani?” Thackeray asked. “Have they become so arrogant?”
The six-year-old animal, mother to two 11-month-old cubs, had allegedly killed at least 13 people in Ralegaon forest in Yavatmal since June 2016. “I feel sad about the deaths of people [killed by the tigress],” Thackeray said. “When people encroach on forest land and in the periphery of habitats of wild animals, they attack humans. There was no need to kill the tigress. She could have been tranquillised. Mungantiwar is making reckless statements which can cost him his cabinet berth.”
Mungantiwar’s decision was criticised by political parties and animal rights groups. Union minister and BJP leader Maneka Gandhi even demanded his resignation. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, however, defended his Cabinet colleague’s actions as a “tough decision”.
Nationalist Congress Party President Jayant Patil claimed that the tigress was killed to help clear the path for the mining industry lobby, IANS reported. “The rules clearly state that such man-eaters must be first tranquillised and caught. In this case, the tigress was directly killed without considering sedating her. We strongly condemn this.”
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, the BJP’s ally in Maharashtra, said his party ministers would raise the matter in a Cabinet meeting,