Tigress Avni (T1) case: State committee now trains guns on Nawab, shooter son

Dec 07, 2018, 12:55 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

While the members have already submitted the report to the Chief Wildlife Warden A K Misra the same will be submitted to Forest Secretary soon post which it might released in public domain

Tigress Avni (T1) case: State committee now trains guns on Nawab, shooter son
Nawab Shafat Ali Khan

While the report submitted by the three member expert committee of National Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA) has made it clear that the Tigress T1 or known as Avni by activists was not shot in self defense as claimed by the shooter Nawab Shafat Ali khan , the sources from Forest Department told this newspaper that while the State Appointed Committee to investigate the killing of T 1 has not raised objections over the intention of Forest Departments but the state appointed committee too has come down heavily on the shooter Asghar Ali who shot the Tigress T 1 claiming that it was shot in self defense.

The NTCA report alleges that some serious violations were done by Asghar Ali - Son of Controversial Shooter Nawab Shafat Ali Khan while shooting the Tigress T 1 on November 2. . The report reveals a shocking fact that , "The weapon used by Asghar Ali Khan to shoot T-1 was licensed on his father Shafat Ali Khan. Shafat Ali Khan was not present with the team which eliminated T-1 is on 02/11/2018. Asghar Ali Khan has not produced any authorization from his father to use the gun in his absence Asghar Ali Khan used the unauthorized weapon to eliminate T-1. "The NTCA report also states that there has been a clear violation of section 3 of The Arms Act , 1959.

State appointed committee report yet to be made public
Taking a serious note about all this incidents , Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had ordered an enquiry through a committee to find out the facts on whether guidelines/ procedures given in SOP were followed in the matter of Tigress T1. The members of the committee included S H Patil, PCCF- Chairman , controversial scientist Bilal Habib - Representative of Wildlife Institute of India , Anish Andheria - President, Wildlife Conservation Trust and Nitin Kakodkar APPCF. While the members have already submitted the report to the Chief Wildlife Warden A K Misra the same will be submitted to Forest Secretary soon post which it might released in public domain.

What state appointed expert committee report says
"The state department appointed expert committee has already submitted it report and it does not raised question on the intension of the forest department in the T 1 case as they have seen that all the best possible efforts were taken to trap the tigress . However the committee has raised question with regards to Asghar Ali who shot the tigress as they are of opinion that he did not follow the SOP and there are also been violation of the Arms act and action as per the law should be taken. The committee has raised questions over the usage of the drug by a non veterinarian during tranquilization." said a source from the Forest Department

What NTCA report says
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change under which the NTCA functions, has also instituted a committee to inquire into the death of T1. It constitutes OP Kaler, Addl Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (retd); Jose Louies, Deputy Director and Chief Wildlife Control Division and Communication, Wildlife Trust of India and Hemant Kamdi, AIG (NTCA) Nagpur. The much awaited report that is in public domain now states some shocking facts . The copy of which is possession mid day also raises serious questions . The 12 pages report which is concluded by Commitee Findings has mentioned 9 important points .

No operational coordination among veterinary professionals and the team which eliminated T-1. While the NTCA has stated that creditable efforts including tracking, camera trapping, DNA analysis to identify the suspected animal and placing trap cages to capture T-1 were made by the forest department. These efforts were undertaken with an aim to capture the animal alive by tranquilizing it. "However, there was no operational coordination among veterinary professionals and the team which eliminated T-1 on 02/11/2018. The veterinary professionals managed to habituate T-1 to a predefined area on Borati-Warud road and planned the capture on the morning of 03/11/2018. Conversely, due to missing co-ordination, team which eliminated T-1 intervened on 02/11/2018 in the night hours itself. The Divisional Manager, FDCM failed to intervene and strengthen plan for capture on 03/11/2018. " stated the committee findings

Unauthorized darting
The NTCA appointed expert commitee has also stated that the darting of T-1 by Mukbhir Sheikh is unauthorized, as he was authorized to identify the T-1 or her cubs. "The dart fired by Mukhbir Sheikh to immobilize T-1 was prepared by Dr Kadu on 31/10/2018 at 2.00 PM and was used after lapse of approximately 56 hours on 02/11/2018 at 11.00 PM. Dr. Kadu advised Mukhbir Sheikh to use the dart in his presence and within 24 hours. Nor then Mukhbir Sheikh or Asghar Ali Khan (whose primary duty was to carry out efforts to tranquilize and capture T-1) cared for the advice of expert. Non adherence to the advice of expert is failing on the part of team eliminated T-1 especially Mukhbir Sheikh and Asghar Ali Khan.

States the NTCA report
In view of the facts the firing in self defense is doubtful. The committee was also of opinion that the claims made by the shooter that he fired in self defense is something that is doubtful. " The dart was fired from approximately 12.8 meters distance when T-1 was on its natural path crossing road, probably moving towards Nallah (water source). T-1 continued movement after darting on its natural path while snarling and growling at the team probably because of disturbance due to dart, moving vehicle and spot light. Within 3-5 seconds, Asghar Ali Khan took one of the guns and shot the T-1 from the moving vehicle in sitting position.

The T-1 was stunned by the impact and died on the spot. Evidences collated from site, videos taken soon after the incident and recreation of events strongly supports the above observation. In view of the facts the firing in self defense is doubtful. Also, it is evident from the provisional post mortem report that the bullet trajectory is at an obtuse angle from side of the animal entering from backside of the left scapula and penetrating towards front of right scapula. In case the animal was shot on attack, the bullet trajectory will go from front to the caudal part of the body. In view of facts emerged out from provisional post mortem report, the firing in self defense is doubtful." states the report

Question over the weapon and license
The committee has also stated that Asghar Ali Khan is totally inexperienced person and provided a false statement to the authority. "The guns and empty shell of cartridge was shifted to Hyderabad without producing it to forest department. It is evident from the details filed by forest department in PIL No. 133 of 2018 that Asgar Ali Khan was working in the team from 06/10/2018 and guns used by the team belong to his father Nawab Shafat Ali Khan. Same observation is supported by declaration of weapons made by Navab Shapath Ali Khan vide letter dated 20/10/2018 forwarded to Superintendent of Police, Yavatmal by CCF (Territorial), Yavatmal vide letter dated 22/10/2018 that both guns belonged to him.

Despite this, shooter Asghar Ali Khan does not remember the make, model and specification of the gun used for killing T-1. He does not remember the immediate incidents and happening after shooting the T-1. He did not act on repeated communication by forest department to submit the weapons used and empty cartridge for further scrutiny. He failed to produce his own all India weapon licence to the NTCA committee which he claimed to possess in his written statement. This indicates that Asghar Ali Khan is hiding the information. The fact is Asghar Ali Khan is totally inexperienced person and provided a false statement to the authority."

Asghar Ali Khan used the unauthorized weapon to eliminate T-1. "The weapon used by Asghar Ali Khan to shoot T-1 was licensed on his father Shafat Ali Khan. Shri Shafat Ali Khan was not present with the team which eliminated T-1 is on 02/11/2018. Asghar Ali Khan has not produced any authorization from his father to use the gun in his absence. Mr. Asghar Ali Khan used the unauthorized weapon to eliminate T-1. " states the commitee

Other important findings
Veterinary drugs were handled by unauthorized person during this operation. Ballistic report, forensic report and other lab reports along with final post mortem report are necessary evidences to further corroborate the findings of the report.

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