14 rounds from AK-47 fired at tiger: probe panel
|OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT|
Jorhat, Dec. 6: The National Tiger Conservation Authority has found that Assam police personnel fired at least 14 shots from two AK-47 rifles to kill the tigress at Basagaon near Kaziranga National Park yesterday.
A two-member committee, comprising Firoz Ahmed and Jyoti Das, formed by the tiger conservation authority to probe the incident, completed its inquiry today and will submit the report soon.
The panel has also found that negligence on part of the forest department and “pro-activeness” on part of the Assam Police led to the death of the animal, listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
The forest department, on its part, has also ordered an inquiry into the killing.
The tigress had strayed from Kaziranga National Park into a village in Basagaon yesterday. It snatched a pig from a house and was eating it with its cub inside a bamboo grove, when a large crowd began gathering in the area, forcing the forest department to call the police to control the people. The tiger came out of the hiding and came face-to-face with the police team and a reporter of a local TV channel, who was filming the incident.
Probably in panic, the tigress pounced at the reporter, prompting a police constable to leap to the journalist’s rescue. As the policeman struggled with the tiger, gun shots rang out.
The cub could not be traced; it could have scampered back to the park.
A forest official said the nine-month-old cub had been sighted by several villagers yesterday. “Although there were signs of suckling on the carcass, the cub is old enough to fend for itself,” he said.
Sources close to probe panel told The Telegraph that had the forest department personnel taken necessary steps, the incident could have been avoided.
“There were police personnel, instead of forest personnel, at the site. Forest personnel should have taken the initiative to protect the tiger by not allowing people to come so close to the animal,” the source said.
The probe report also stated that it was proactive action on part of the Assam police personnel deputed in the area which led to the killing of the tiger.
“Panic gripped the police personnel as soon as the tiger came out of its hiding and they opened fire immediately,” the report said.
The post-mortem conducted on the carcass found two bullets and at least 14 bullet injury marks. The veterinarian who conducted the autopsy said the bullets would be sent to the forensic laboratory.
Assam forest minister Rakibul Hussain said a high-level inquiry would be conducted under the supervision of O.P. Pandey, additional principal chief conservator of forest, and C.R. Bhobora, deputy conservator of forests, from tomorrow.
The team has been asked to submit its report within 15 days.