Minister guilty of molesting tiger
Gyan Varma / DNA
Thursday, August 20, 2009 3:59 IST
The Union environment and forest ministry has found Maharashtra agriculture minister Balasaheb Thorat guilty of “molesting and teasing” a tiger when he entered a zoo cage and patted it in Nagpur last Saturday.
Shocked by the incident, the ministry had demanded a report from the zoo authorities as the minister had violated the law.
Thorat, along with local Congress leaders, had entered the cage which had three tiger cubs.
Even though the zoo officials were aware of the violation, they didn’t stop the minister from entering the cage, risking his life and harassing the animal.
The zoo authorities have decided to take departmental action against the zoo officials who participated in the violation. Senior ministry officials said the zoo authorities should not have encouraged the minister.
Ministry sources said Thorat was guilty of violating Section 38 (J) of the Indian Forest Act and he could be imprisoned for six months or fined Rs2,000, or both.
Only authorised and trained personnel can enter cages under controlled conditions.
Senior ministry officials said action against the minister could be a bit difficult as Maharashtra is gearing up for elections and action against Thorat could create problems for the ruling Congress party.
“What happened at the zoo was wrong and in complete violation of the law. Action will be taken,” Jairam Ramesh, minister for environment and forest, had told the national conference on environment and forest in the capital on Tuesday.