Hyd shooter’s claim of killing tigress Avni in self-defence ‘untenable’: Maha state panel

The committee said that marksman Asghar Ali’s action has to be investigated under the Wildlife Protection Act, Arms Act 1959 and the NDPS Act 1985.
Hyd shooter’s claim of killing tigress Avni in self-defence ‘untenable’: Maha state panel
Hyd shooter’s claim of killing tigress Avni in self-defence ‘untenable’: Maha state panel

The Maharashtra High-level committee, probing the controversial killing of tigress Avni has sought action against Hyderabad-based marksman Asghar Ali, who shot the 5-year-old man-eater, sparking outrage from animal rights activists.

A six-member committee which includes state Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, UK Agarwal in its report said the plea of killing T1 (Avni) "as an act of  self-defence or defence of other persons,” is not applicable in this case. His action has to be investigated under the Wildlife Protection Act, Arms Act 1959 and the NDPS (Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act 1985," reads the report, according to Telangana Today.

In its 33-page report, the committee observed that Asghar's claim of shooting the feline under self-defence was "untenable".

Lamenting the report, Asghar's father, Shafat Ali Khan said, "Asghar had to shoot the animal under self-defence. He was following the orders given to him. The orders were to either kill or tranquilise the animal. The Supreme Court had clearly said that there should be no human loss henceforth, so he did what he had to. The animal was just 12 meters away. After the dart was hit, it charged at the vehicle and Asghar was left with no choice."

The committee also found fault with the animal being shot at by Asghar, who didn't have any prior experience. “Asghar Ali Khan had never personally carried out a tiger darting/shooting prior to this shooting or tigress T1, thus rendering him incapable” of taking decisions under the circumstances, the report said.

Reacting to this, Shafat said, "Asghar didn't go with the intention to kill the animal. He went there to just control the situation and drive away the animal, which was terrorising the villagers. The base camp received nearly 50 panic calls from the villagers of Ralegaon about the man-eater being on the prowl."

"They tried tranquilising the animal. It was a forest officer, Mukhbir Sheik, who fired the dart at the animal. It takes 15-17 minutes for the drug to take effect. In this crucial time, the animal could do anything. It could run away, charge at people, fall in the water and drown. In this case, it charged," Shafat explained. 

"If he hadn't shot the animal, it would have leapt and killed at least two people in the jeep."

The committee also noted that Asghar didn't immediately deposit the gun, which was used in killing Avni. 

Dismissing this claim, Shafat said that his son had cooperated in the entire probe without causing any hindrance. 

The report also mentions that it was odd for the animal to roar and charge at the team, as per the claims of Asghar. However, Shafat says, "The autopsy of the animal revealed that it hadn’t eaten for five days. It clearly establishes that the animal was hungry and aggressive."

This report is contrary to the clean chit given by Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra to Agsar Ali, earlier in January. In a letter dated January 30, 2019, the Forest Department said that the Avni killing case was 'investigated', 'resolved' and 'closed'. 

Avni, which had killed 13 people, was shot dead last year in November in Ralegaon of Yavatmal district. The animal was declared a 'man-eater', and the Maharashtra forest officials couldn't capture it for nearly two years, following which orders were given to kill or capture the animal. Soon after its death, several outraged over its killing.


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