Asghar Ali guilty of unauthorised killing of tigress Avni (T1), says report

Updated: Feb 11, 2019, 15:32 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

It also mentions that the shooter Asghar Ali appears to have clandestinely moved the weapons as well as scheduled drugs used in the operation to Hyderabad without informing the authorities

Asghar Ali guilty of unauthorised killing of tigress Avni (T1), says report
Tigress T1 captured on a camera trap. File Pics

Days before being shot dead, tigress T1 had completely lost the fear of humans and was responsible for a number of deaths in the Pandharkawda area, the report of the state-appointed committee probing her death confirms. However, what is more alarming is that the committee has sought action against shooter Asghar Ali, son of Nawab Shafat Ali Khan, as he has been found to be responsible for violations with regards to the Arms Act and the veterinary drugs used in the killing of the tigress.

The committee says, "According to our findings, it is clear that Asghar Ali is prima facie guilty of unauthorised shooting and killing of tigress T1. He appears to have clandestinely moved the weapons as well as scheduled drugs used in the operation to Hyderabad without informing the authorities. This opens up the possibility of important evidence being tampered with. Therefore, cases should immediately be registered against Asghar Ali under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, Arms Act, 1959 and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. These investigations should also examine the role and culpability of Shafat Ali Khan and other members of the team involved in the operations."

Finding out exigencies
The main aim of the committee was to see whether efforts were made to tranquilise and capture the tigress post the orders on September 4, 2018. To find out the exigencies that arose at the spot on November 2, 2018, which led to the killing of Avni, the team analysed whether the guidelines issued by the National Tiger Conservation Authority were implemented during the operation.

In the introductory paragraph of the report, the committee has mentioned, "Evidence confirms that not only T1, but even T2 and the two cubs preyed on livestock and humans." It is also of the opinion that judicial interventions by activists led to the delay and confusion in field operations and unnecessary deaths of humans. To understand the exigencies that arose at the spot, the committee members had visited the places frequented by the tigress, her cubs and T2.

They also inspected the spots where she had killed humans. They then visited the site where T1 was killed and asked both the groups involved in the operation, which comprised Asghar Ali, forester Mukhbir Sheikh, driver Salman Khan, forest guards Dilip Mahadevrao Keram and Govind Gyanoba Kendre, to enact the sequence of events that happened on November 2.

'Tigress Avni (T1) was killed in hurry'

Not convincing
The report adds, "The committee was extremely surprised when Asghar Ali said that he does not remember which of the two guns he claimed he was carrying was used to shoot the tiger. It was clear from the investigation that the firearms that were used by Asghar Ali and the tranquilising gun allegedly used by Mukhbir Singh were not immediately deposited with the forest department officials. And the explanation he gave for it was not convincing. The fact that they have not been deposited with the forest department despite repeated requests and reminders, raises serious doubts about the motives of Asghar Ali and Shafat Ali Khan."

"The committee strongly and unanimously opines that the protection sought by and for Asghar Ali Khan under the plea of self-defence or defence of other persons, is not applicable in this case. His action has to be investigated under WLPA, Arms Act 1959 and NDPS Act 1985 following all due procedures," the report concludes.

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