A day after Union minister Maneka Gandhi criticised Maharashtra environment minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, he said he would have given his side of the story had she called him up. "This is the third tiger being killed on his directions", Gandhi said in a statement.
Besides PILs in the Supreme Court and Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench), several wildlife groups and activists had strongly opposed plans to eliminate Avni since it would also mean near-certain death for her two dependent young ones, online petitions and social media campaigns since several months, demonstrations and protests in a bid to save the tigress and her cubs.
In a series of tweets from her official Tweeter account on Sunday, Gandhi said that she was deeply saddened by the way tigress Avni has been brutally murdered.
While some of the villagers in Maharashtra's Yavatmal district celebrated Avni's death with firecrackers, the forest officials are out on a new mission: to try to find Avni's two young cubs, and save them. "Let her produce that court order", he added.
When the big cat emerged, she was shot with a tranquiliser.
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"Avni's killing must be investigated as there are clear violations of Standard Operating Procedures", Neha Sinha, another wildlife conservationist, told CBS News. This is patently illegal.
Asgar Ali, the 37-year-old son of controversial sharpshooter Nawab Shafat Ali, said that he shot Avni in self-defence.
The Minister also came down heavily on Mungantiwar for giving order to private marksman Shafat Ali Khan's son to carry out the hunting operation. "Despite the forest officials being committed to tranquilise, capture and qurantine the tigress, the trigger-happy shooter has killed her on his own under orders of Mungantiwar", she tweeted.
The elusive tigress on the run for over a month was spotted with the help of night vision thermal drones last night in Gorakhpur village of Ramnagar sub-division after an intense combing operation, Terai Western Forest Circle Conservator Parag Dhakate had said. Fadnavis said that people were raising doubts whether she had first been hit with a tranquillizer dart.
Even before Avni was killed, animal rights activists had voiced similar disapproval questioning many aspects of the hunt.