Trap and cage Aarey leopards: Shiv Sena minister's shocker

Updated: Mar 24, 2017, 11:25 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav |

Aarey MLA Ravindra Waikar responds to people's basic demands for civic amenities with moronic call to eradicate big cats from the green belt

Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad told the media that he hit the Air India staffer 25 times with his sandal
Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad told the media that he hit the Air India staffer 25 times with his sandal

Ravindra and Ravindra are giving Shiv Sena a bad name. The party was left red-faced yesterday by the outrageous behaviour and words of not one but two of its problem children. While on Wednesday, MLA Ravindra Waikar had demanded that all leopards be ousted from their natural habitat, yesterday Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad thrashed an Air India staffer with his sandal, and then unabashedly bragged about it.

Pramila Rinjad rescued her son from the claws of a leopard  
Pramila Rinjad rescued her son from the claws of a leopard

Like Bal Thackeray, the late Shiv Sena supremo, his son Uddhav and grandsons Aaditya and Tejas, are all die-hard fans of wildlife, but party MLA and minister Ravindra Waikar wants to kick leopards out of their home in Aarey.

 

Waikar - who is MLA from Jogeshwari East and Minister of State for Housing - was heard making the outrageous demand yesterday, during a visit to the Chafyachapada tribal hamlet, where a three-year-old was attacked by a leopard on Monday. Late on Wednesday night, Waikar visited the child, Pranay, and his mother Pramila Rinjad (28), who miraculously rescued him from the claws of the big cat.

More than 50 locals gathered to express their anger - not against the leopards, but at the government, for not providing them with basic amenities such as public toilets, water supply and streetlights. However, instead of promising these basic rights to the locals, Waikar came up a bizarre solution - throw the leopards out of Aarey.

In a video taken by a local resident, Ravindra Waikar is seen demanding forest officials to trap all leopards in Aarey. The forest official explained to Waikar that leopards are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, and they cannot be trapped and relocated randomly. But Waikar remained adamant. "If there are 5-6 leopards in Aarey then trap them, so that there are no further incidents of conflict," he said.

Locals like leopards
The locals said they have peacefully co-existed with the big cats for decades together, and they only want their basic rights. A 50-year-old woman, known as Asha Tai, is seen in the same video, stating: "If this leopard is trapped, another one will come. What we need are basic amenities like streetlights, water and proper roads."

Another villager said they have to walk more than 15 minutes through the forested patch to get the water or relieve themselves at night. "A few weeks ago, someone saw a leopard during one of these visits and came back running," she added. Yet another local interjected, "Saheb, please solve the issue of our basic amenities first."

Waikar makes excuses
Waikar then said that he had been unable to use his MLA funds to provide these amenities to them because of 'technical issues'. "The area comes under the jurisdiction of the State Reserve Police Fore and Force One Commandoes, so there are technical difficulties if we have to do any work in this area," he said.

He added, "I will discuss this with the CM. Providing facilities is our job. If I am unable to solve the problems of the people, I would rather not hold the portfolio of minister."

Spot the pattern
This is not the first time that Waikar has come up with a bizarre plan to end man-leopard conflict. In October 2013, mid-day had highlighted how the same Sena leader said that leopards that maul humans should either be trapped or shot dead.

Expert speak

Dr Vidya Athreya, Biologist and leopard expert
'Trapping cannot be a solution because if one animal is removed, another will fill the space. The MLA should try and focus on providing basic amenities'

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