BJP Minister's video with a pistol goes viral, says it was for protection against killer leopard

Updated: 29 November, 2017 16:58 IST | A Correspondent | Mumbai

While shooting orders have been issued for the leopard that has so far killed four, only Forest officials are authorised to take down the animal

On the hunt for a leopard, BJP Minister Girish Mahajan's decision to whip out his pistol backfired on him, drawing heavy criticism from wildlife activists and political rivals. A video of the gun-toting minister has since gone viral, clearly showing Mahajan with a pistol in his hand, as he joined the forest department team in their search for a leopard that killed four people in Chalisgaon tehsil near Jalgaon.

A grab from the video that shows Minister Girish Mahajan holding his pistol while waiting in the bushes for the leopard to emerge
A grab from the video that shows Minister Girish Mahajan holding his pistol while waiting in the bushes for the leopard to emerge

Locals have appealed to the forest officials to trap the leopard, and since it is a problem animal, the authorities have granted permission to shoot if the big cat proves difficult to capture. However, as per the rules, the animal can only be brought down by an official who has been granted permission to shoot by the state wildlife warden. In light of this, the wildlife activists now demand that the water resources minister be booked under the Wildlife Protection Act.

Activist Dr Sarita Subramanian said, "Who authorised the Minister to go on this hunt? If he did this illegally, then what action will be taken against him and the accompanying officials for trying to kill a species that is protected under the Wildlife Act?"

Official speak
Sunish Subramanian Kanju, honorary wildlife warden of Mumbai city, said, "The minister should not have displayed the pistol in his hand when the forest department is already looking for the leopard. He should allow the forest officials to do their work; even a minister has to follow the rules and regulations."

Claims self-defence
A K Misra, principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) and chief wildlife warden, said, "There have been a series of man-animal conflict incidents in the area, resulting in the death of people, so permission was granted to shoot the animal. Our team is taking all measures to trap the animal alive, but if this is not successful, we will have to shoot as a last resort."

"I did not do any wrong. I was there to meet the family of a leopard attack victim and we heard that the leopard was roaming around nearby. I stayed put with my people; what if I had just got in the car and left? What if someone had been attacked? I carry the licensed pistol everywhere for my own safety. I was not there to hunt the leopard. I haven't killed anything in my entire life. I took out my pistol to fire in the air in case we saw the leopard. It is unbelievable to say that a small firearm like a pistol can kill a leopard."

He added, "I don't mind if my political opponents file a complaint against me, seek my resignation and ouster from the cabinet. Let my opponents do their job and let me do my own job. I'm responsible for my own people."

Inputs by Dharmendra Jore

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Controversy's child
Earlier this month, Girish Mahajan stirred a hornet's nest by suggesting that liquor be named after women to boost sales. After women's groups and political parties expressed outrage, Mahajan apologised for his remarks.

First Published: 29 November, 2017 08:56 IST

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