Avni death rocks Cabinet meeting

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has asked ministers from his party to raise the issue in the Cabinet.

Mumbai: Claims and counterclaims were made on Tuesday over the mention of tigress Avni, which was controversially killed two weeks ago in Yavatmal, in the Maharashtra Cabinet.

Shiv Sena ministers claimed that they had raised the topic and cornered forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar in the meeting whereas Mr Mungantiwar claimed the topic didn’t come up before Cabinet. An investigation is on into the killing of the big cat.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has asked ministers from his party to raise the issue in the Cabinet. As per his instructions, they raised it during Tuesday meeting. “The killing of Avni is not only illegal but it was also not required. Now probe is on, but the state government’s actions have shown us in bad light. It should be seen to that punishment is meted out for this mistake,” environment minister Ramdas Kadam reportedly said in the meeting.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers, however, denied these claims. “There was no discussion on the Avni issue in the meeting. Nobody raised it,” said Mr Mungantiwar after the meeting.

Avni was killed as complaints of her becoming a man-eater had reached the state government and forest department. But her killing has irked wildlife activists across the country as well as the globe. Union minister and BJP leader Maneka Gandhi slammed the Maharashtra government for the orders to kill the animal and alleged that this was done to help industrialist.

The Maharashtra government denied this and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis downplayed the harsh criticism, saying he would speak to Ms Gandhi about the matter in detail.

Shiv Sena has been consistent slamming government and Mr Mungantiwar over the issue and through its mouthpiece Saamana.

The Sena chief has termed the killing ‘unnecessary’ and placed the blame squarely on the forest department.

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