Devendra Fadnavis says Avni's killing will be probed; Rahul invokes Mahatma Gandhi, says 'can judge nation by how it treats animals'

The Maharashtra Forest Department may be celebrating its successful operation in shooting down "man-eater" tigress Avni in the forests of Yavatmal district, but animal rights activists and several other quarters are anything but pleased with her killing.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday expressed his sadness over the decision to kill Avni, saying they will launch an investigation to check for lapses in the procedure followed. He made the statement after Union minister Maneka Gandhi criticised him and his Maharashtra government for the "ghastly murder" of Avni, saying a shooter who was sent behind bars for illegally supplying arms to "anti-nationals" was sent to kill the animal.

Maneka had said she would "legally, criminally as well as politically" take up Avni's killing "very strongly" with Fadnavis.

 Devendra Fadnavis says Avnis killing will be probed; Rahul invokes Mahatma Gandhi, says can judge nation by how it treats animals

Tigress Avni after she was shot. ANI

Tigress Avni, believed to have been responsible for 13 deaths in Maharashtra in the past two years, was shot dead in Maharashtra's Yavatmal district on Friday night as part of an operation in the forests of Borati. The Maharashtra Forest Department had been looking for the "man-eater" tigress for nearly three months, in an operation that involved sniffer dogs, trap cameras, drones and a hang-glider, expert trackers, sharp-shooters and around 200 ground personnel.

PETA, on Saturday, demanded that Avni's killing, which the animal rights group said was a "wildlife crime", be investigated. The tigress is survived by two 10-months-old cubs.

Maneka also accused Maharashtra forests minister Sudhir Mungantiwar of overlooking "several requests from many stakeholders" and giving the order to kill Avni. On shooter Shafat Ali Khan, she pointed out that he has killed three tigers, at least 10 leopards, a few elephants and 300 wild boars in Maharashtra's Chandrapur. "He is a criminal known for supplying guns to anti-nationals and for a suspected case of murder in Hyderabad," she had tweeted on Sunday.

Mungantiwar on Monday took strong objection to Maneka's criticism of the Maharashtra government over Avni's killing, claiming she "lacks information" on the case and can order a high-level investigation if she wants to.

Avni's killing garnered reactions from political parties, as well.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi invoked Mahatma Gandhi, saying, "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

Congress leader Sanjay Jha also hit out at the government, wondering whether anyone was surprised at the "lynchings". "We are governed by 'as long as nothing happens to me, why bother?", he tweeted.

Former Union minister and Congress leader Milind Deora demanded stern action against the perpetrators and questioned what would happen to Avni's two cubs now.

The Shiv Sena, heavily criticised government authorities for killing Avni and called for the adoption of adequate measures to avoid human-animal conflicts. In its editorial mouthpiece Saamana, the party acknowledged that the tigress ha killed 13 people in the past two years, but blamed the rampant human intrusion into wildlife inhabited areas for it.

Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray also attacked the Maharashtra government for shooting the tigress dead, calling it "poaching and trophy hunting". In a strong statement, Thackeray said that instead of protecting animals and forests from poachers and trophy hunters, the government was inspired by them.

Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Preeti Sharma-Menon accused Mungantiwar of "murdering Avni in cold blood". "Who cares about a tigress when industrialists are on the prowl for forest lands," she remarked sarcastically.

Writer, poet and animal activist Pritish Nandy also condemned Avni's killing, stating that it was time to sack Mungantiwar who "loves to sanction killing of wildlife". He asserted that the tigress "was no 'man-eater' and was "just a mother trying to protect her kids".

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Nov 05, 2018 16:24:33 IST