Killing of Avni: Maha Govt yet to respond to NTCA

| | New Delhi
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Killing of Avni: Maha Govt yet to respond to NTCA

Thursday, 06 June 2019 | Archana Jyoti | New Delhi

Despite several reminders, the Maharashtra Government is yet to respond to the National Tiger Conservation Authority’s (NTCA) notice seeking action against the officials responsible for violating several norms during the killing of “man-eating” tigress Avni in Yavatmal in the State almost half-a-year ago, to be precise last November, 2018.

“We have issued them several reminders to reply what action they have taken in the case, but we are yet to get any reply from the States forest authorities,” said AK Nayak, NTCA member secretary.

The case pertains to the killing of Avni, which was on November 2, shot dead by a team of forest staff members, and Asghar Ali, the son of independent sharpshooter Nawab Shafat Ali Khan, who was hired by the forest department. The department wanted to either tranquilise the animal or kill it, as Avni was said to have killed 13 people since June 2016.

The killing of Avni led with wildlife activists to allege that the big cat was shot down without following any stipulated norms. The allegations were found to be true by a probe panel formed by the NTCA to intervene into the cause of death of the tigress. The NTCA is the apex statutory body tasked with providing funding support to the States for tiger conservation.

The probe panel found that several rules were broken and set guidelines were violated in the killing of tigress T-1, or Avni, an alleged maneater. “There were also violations under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, glaring lapses and violation of Section 3(1) of the Arms Act, 1958; the Indian Veterinary Council Act, 1984; the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and NTCA Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Also the person authorised by the Maharashtra forest department to either tranquilise or kill the animal was Shafat Ali Khan and not his son,” said the report.

A showcause notice followed by several reminders has been issued to the Maharashtra forest department in the last six months while an action taken report regarding inconsistencies identified by NTCA needs to be answered by the Maharashtra principal chief conservator of forest (Wildlife). However, the State Government has failed to respond to our notices till date, said Nayak.

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