Maharashtra Government Sets Up Panel to Probe Killing of Man-Eater Tigress Avni
Tigress Avni (Photo Credit: Twitter/ Milind Deora)

Mumbai, November 9: The Maharashtra government Friday constituted a four-member committee, comprising wildlife experts and officials, to conduct an "in-depth" probe into the killing of tigress Avni. The state government has come under fire over the death of the tigress, who was believed to have turned a man- eater and killed 13 people in the last two years in Yavatmal district. The big cat was shot dead in an operation in a forest in Yavatmal district last Friday. The killing of T1, as the tigress was officially known, led to an outrage among animal lovers and wildlife organisations.

An official statement issued by the forest department stated that the committee has been formed on directions of Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to conduct an "in-depth" inquiry into the death of the tigress.

The committee is headed by Principal Chief Conservator of Forest S H Patil. It will include Wildlife Institute of India member Habib Bilal, Wildlife Conservation Trust chairman Anish Andheriya and Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Nitin Kakodkar, the statement said. Man-eater Tigress Named Avni Shot Dead in Maharashtra.

Kakodkar will also act as the panel's convenor, it said. Union minister Maneka Gandhi had lashed out at the state government over Avni's killing and dubbed it a "ghastly murder". Avni was the mother of two 10-month-old cubs. The Maharashtra government, however, defended itself calling the incident "sad" but necessary after the tigress attacked forest staff trying to tranquilise it. Opposition NCP dubbed the inquiry as an "eyewash".

Party spokesman Nawab Malik said the probe is aimed at giving a clean chit to the state government and demanded constitution of an SIT. Asked about the criticism by the opposition, Mungantiwar said he has written a letter to Maneka Gandhi, asking for an independent probe by Supreme Court judges into the killing of Avni. "This inquiry (by SC judges) will happen when it has to happen, but the state government has to probe the issue at the earliest," Mungantiwar said.