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Maharashtra tigress killing: Thackeray calls probe panels a farce

Embarrassing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, its ruling ally Shiv Sena on Saturday termed as a ‘farce’ the inquiry committees set up yesterday to probe the killing of alleged man-eater tigress Avni and demanded a judicial probe into the incident.

Speaking to mediapersons, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said the very same people who supported the killing of Avni and, even hired a hunter to kill her, will now sit as ‘judges’ to probe her death.

“This is sheer drama. Those people who gave the contract (supari) to kill the tigress will now investigate her death. The committees must be dissolved and the probe must be conducted by a retired or sitting judge,” Thackeray said.

Under fire from various quarters, Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar offered an olive branch and said he was ready to set up a probe committee headed by Thackeray if he felt there’s anything suspicious about the tigress’ killing.

“But, if this is not acceptable to him, I have recommended to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to appoint a five-member committee of retired Supreme Court judges. This will end the baseless political controversy in the matter,” Mungantiwar responded.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had defended Mungantiwar against the allegations, saying, “he (Mungantiwar) did not take a gun to go and personally kill Avni.”

“By this logic, during the ‘surgical strike’ (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi did not go to shoot at the borders, but took full credit for the action. Similarly, Mungantiwar should also own up the killing of Avni,” Thackeray shot back.

Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray wondered “who took the call to kill Avni” and whether all the forest officers and others involved were present at that time last Friday night, and if the tigress was apparently a man-eater, how did travelled in an open vehicle.

“There should be a free and fair judicial inquiry, if there’s nothing to hide. This committee is a sham. It is an arrogant way to give each other a clean chit and call the hunt legal,” demanded Aditya Thackeray.

Besides a judicial probe, he also sought a narco-test/lie detector for all the officials from the ministry to unravel the truth.

Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said it was strange how a minister (Mungantiwar) who is facing direct allegations is having the powers to decide on committees or suggesting a probe panel headed by Thackeray.

“The CM must come forward and take up this matter, set up the committee headed by Thackeray so that the air can be cleared over Avni’s killing,” she said in a statement.

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