Citing various anomalies and questionable actions of veterinarian Dr Aditi Sharma deputed by Animal Husbandry department to the Rajaji national park, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi has written to the Minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Rekha Arya requesting her to recall Sharma and depute a capable veterinarian in her place.
In the letter, Gandhi writes about Sharma, “Not only has she failed to emulate the progressive steps towards rescue and rehabilitation taken by other vets posted in national parks, but has also been a disaster for conservation efforts. She has been sadistic and unscientific in dealing with wildlife and must be removed from this critical posting immediately. To give you some examples: she unnecessarily trapped an adult wild tusker and recommended that it be kept in captivity or life. All other problem elephants have been successfully translocated earlier and there was no justification for recommending and insisting on life imprisonment for this animal.”
The union minister has further raised serious concerns about the treatment being meted out to this elephant. She writes, “Since November (2018), this tusker has been severely abused and beaten up, starved, drugged and experimented upon by Dr Aditi Sharma. Under the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, permission from the Animal Welfare Board of India must be obtained for ‘training’ of animals. She was repeatedly warned not to torture the animals but has paid no heed to the authorities. Most cruel methods of torture of elephants are being imported into Uttarakhand by her to misuse the public funds available for wildlife conservation. Such practices have empirically increased conflict and the number of human casualties in Kerala and Assam. She has now imprisoned and is torturing the elephant in a Kraal and is involved with some very questionable Pujari to do some Jhhad-Phook tricks on the elephant.”
Gandhi further states that for the past one year, Sharma has spent her time attempting to tranquilise and relocate tigers in Rajaji without any provocation or conflict from the species.
There are elephants which the Delhi Government wants to give to Uttarakhand, but her repeated unjustified demands of screening and re-screening are delaying the process leading to further abuse of these animals. Stating that Sharma’s five years on deputation are now over, Gandhi has requested Arya to recall her and send some capable vet to Rajaji who can add value to the conservation of wildlife. Sharma’s conduct and skill should be re-evaluated before any critical posting is entrusted upon her.
The Union minister has also requested Arya, as the head of the State Animal Welfare Board to institute a committee of at least five wildlife veterinarians to assess the condition of the tusker, currently kept at Meethawali range of Rajaji and to facilitate its rehabilitation.