Avni’s death haunts For­est Min­is­ter

Op­po­si­tion par­ties in Ma­ha­rash­tra de­mand ar­rest of Sud­hir Mun­gan­ti­war and in­ves­ti­ga­tion by CBI

The Hindu - - NATION - Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

Op­po­si­tion par­ties to­day de­manded the ar­rest of Ma­ha­rash­tra For­est Min­is­ter Sud­hir Mun­gan­ti­war, who has been un­der pres­sure for al­legedly or­der­ing the killing of ti­gress Avni. The Congress, Shiv Sena and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) de­manded his dis­missal by Chief Min­is­ter Deven­dra Fad­navis or, they said, protests would be held across the State.

The par­ties called the probe com­mit­tee set-up by the govern­ment on Fri­day “a sham” to pro­tect the Min­is­ter. They also de­manded a probe by the Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI).

The Ma­ha­rash­tra govern­ment had on Fri­day formed a high-level com­mit­tee to probe the con­tro­ver­sial killing of the ti­gress Avni, whose death sparked a na­tional de­bate with Union Min­is­ter for Women and Child De­vel­op­ment Maneka Gandhi lead­ing the charge against Mr. Mun­gan­ti­war. The com­mit­tee ap­pointed by Ma­ha­rash­tra is headed by the State’s Chief For­est Of­fi­cer S.H. Patil to probe lapses, if any, into the killing.

‘Global march’

Call­ing for a global march on Novem­ber 11, the Congress raised “se­ri­ous ques­tions” over Mr. Mun­gan­ti­war’s role in shoot­ing the al­leged maneater. “It is highly pos­si­ble that Mun­gan­ti­war could be in nexus with the in­ter­na­tional poach­ing mafias. It is clear that our na­tional an­i­mal is not safe un­der Mun­gan­ti­war’s rule,” Mum­bai Congress pres­i­dent San­jay Niru­pam said on Satur­day.

The Shiv Sena said the probe set up by the State govern­ment is noth­ing but a “sham and a farce.” “The com­mit­tee for in­quiry is a sham. It is only an ar­ro­gant, thick-skinned way by this govern­ment to give a clean chit and call the hunt le­gal. It in­cludes ev­ery­one who re­ports to the Min­is­ter and those who pos­si­bly in­vited the hunter,” al­leged Yuva Sena leader Aditya Thack­eray.

The Shiv Sena said ques­tions raised by con­cerned cit­i­zens and civil so­ci­ety must be an­swered by the govern­ment and Mr. Mun­gan­ti­war. “Who took the call to shoot Avni? Were for­est of­fi­cers and oth­ers who planned it present at the time of shoot­ing Avni? If yes, why did they go out in an open ve­hi­cle, if they were sure that she was ap­par­ently a man-eater?” Mr. Thack­eray asked.

‘Se­ri­ous ma­nip­u­la­tion’

Mr. Niru­pam fur­ther al­leged se­ri­ous ma­nip­u­la­tion in the ten­ders for set­ting up a sur­veil­lance sys­tem in the State’s Tiger Re­serves. “De­spite the Na­tional Tiger Con­ser­va­tive Au­thor­ity’s (NTCA) rule of hav­ing a sur­veil­lance sys­tem in­stalled in ev­ery Tiger Re­serve in the coun­try, Sud­hir Mun­gan­ti­war has con­ve­niently re­frained from do­ing the need­ful in Ma­ha­rash­tra time and again. All the other States with Tiger Re­serves have in­stalled sur­veil­lance sys­tems ex­cept Ma­ha­rash­tra,” Mr. Niru­pam said.

S. SU­DAR­SHAN ■

Call for jus­tice: Wildlife ac­tivists protest­ing against the killing of ti­gress Avni at the Civil Lines in Nag­pur on Satur­day.

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