Nagpur: The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) submitted a report on the killing of tigress Avni. The report states that the bullet was fired from the rear and not while the tiger was charging at them, proving that Avni was indeed murdered. Based on these allegations, a six-member state-level committee was formulated for investigation. The probe started on November 19 and was concluded after the two-day visit to Pandharkawda, Maharashtra. The team consisted of SH Patil, (production and management) principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF), Nitin Kakodkar, additional principal chief conservator of forest (APCCF), K Ullas Karanth, deputy chairman, Bilal Habib and Dr Praag Nigam, scientists, Wildlife Institute of India.

The committee also held an interrogation with Asghar Ali Khan, based on which they have asked him to surrender the weapon used for shooting tigress Avni. Sunil Limaye APCCF, Nagpur, said Khan was asked to surrender the weapon and cartridge used to shoot T1. Since Hyderabad-based Khan received the message late, he couldn’t do so, due to Telangana elections, which are around the corner. However, the arms have been submitted to the police. Khan has also submitted a letter stating that he would surrender the arms once the elections are over.

The committee also checked the monitoring of T2 and Avni’s two cubs and acknowledged the measures taken by the forest department. Apart from Khan, the committee also spoke to Yavatmal honorary wildlife warden Ramzan Virani and deputy conservator of forests KM Abharna in relation to the killing.

The team has raised concerns like the absence of a vet during the shooting, Khan not receiving any permit to shoot and his visit to the spot at night. Added information like Khan spreading messages against the conservation, him celebrating the death of Avni and statements supporting the shooting issued by six top conservationists, was provided to them. The spot report was done on November 3, though the tigress was killed the previous night. 

All of this point to the fact that the shooting was a violation of NTCA standard operating procedures and Arms Act. According to sources, a 300 Winchester Magnum was used, which is in violation of the NTCA guidelines. Earlier, Yavatmal SP was informed to restrict commandos from using 7.62 (AK -47)-type rifles on T1.

The state committee has announced that it would release its report in two days.