The Shiv Sena on Tuesday said they raised the matter of the killing of tigress Avni at the Maharashtra Cabinet meeting, PTI reported. Shiv Sena leader and State Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam said he has sought a judicial inquiry into the matter. The Shiv Sena is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the state.
The “man-eating tigress” was killed in Yavatmal district on November 2. The six-year-old animal, who had two 11-month-old cubs, had allegedly killed at least 13 people in Ralegaon forest in Yavatmal since June 2016. Several people and animal rights groups have criticised Forests Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar for giving orders to kill the animal, and the BJP-led state government’s handling of the matter. Union minister and BJP leader Maneka Gandhi even demanded his resignation.
Another Shiv Sena leader, Industries Minister Subhash Desai, said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had assured the Cabinet of a fair investigation into the animal’s killing. “Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis informed the Cabinet that the authorities concerned have been directed to expedite tracing tigress Avni’s cubs.” Desai said.
The forest minister, however, claimed that Avni’s death was not discussed in his presence at the meeting. “When I came for the meeting, nobody spoke about it,” Mungantiwar told PTI. “I am not aware if the issue was raised in my absence.”
On November 10, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had also criticised the government’s handling of the matter. “Those who had given the ‘supari’ [contract] to kill the tigress have been made members of the [probe] committee,” Thackeray had said. He was referring to the state government’s decision to set up a committee to investigate the killing, PTI reported.
Thackeray has demanded that the investigation team be headed by a retired judge. The Shiv Sena had mocked Fadnavis for defending Mungantiwar’s statement that he could not be held responsible for the killing as a sharpshooter was hired to kill the tigress, the news agency reported. “Why did Prime Minister Narendra Modi take credit for the surgical strike, when he did not conduct it himself,” Thackeray said.