Tigress Avni shot dead: Maharashtra forest minister hits back at Maneka Gandhi
Mumbai, Nov 4: Under fire from all quarters over the killing of tigress Avni, Maharashtra's Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Tuesday sayning union minister Maneka Gandhi "lacks information" on the issue.
Maneka Gandhi has written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, asking him to "remove" state Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar from his post, accusing him of being out of bounds while issuing orders to shoot tigress Avni - officially known as T1.
"I will resign if what I am saying about SC order is wrong, else Maneka Gandhi BJP should resign," the forest minister said. The SC said to try to tranquillize but if not possible it also gave permission to kill, he said.
"I am surprised that Maneka Gandhi who is a Union Minister for so long doesn't know the who gives permission to kill tigers," he said.
He said that the NTCA guidelines were followed while releasing the orders on tranquillisation and shooting of tigress, after the killings of tribals and farmers in the Pandharkawada area of Yavatmal district.
"No forest minister can release such orders (of shooting)... these orders were not released by me... the guidelines were followed to the hilt... the orders were challenged in the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court and both courts upheld the Forest department orders," he clarified.
According to him, the decision was taken only after the locals stopped going to the fields because of the fear of the tigress. "It was affecting the livelihood of the locals," he said.
On the criticism by Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, he said that she "lacks information" on the entire issue and a phone call could have dispelled the doubts. In a series of tweets, Gandhi had said that Mungantiwar had ignored the calls of various stakeholders and that Avni's killing was a "straight case of crime".
Besides, she had also described shikari and sharpshooter Nawab Shafath Ali Khan as a criminal. However, the senior Maharashtra minister and BJP leader pointed out that Khan had been on panels of various state governments.
The tigress, officially known as T1, was believed to be responsible for the deaths of 13 people in the last two years.
It was shot dead by Ali in the Borati forest in Yavatmal district Friday.
The tigress left behind two 10-month-old cubs.