New Delhi: A top government body for tiger
conservation has sought a CBI probe into the death of a female
big cat in Madhya Pradesh`s Bandhavgarh park as it pointed the
needle of suspicion towards certain state officials.
Rajesh Gopal, Member Secretary of National Tiger
Conservation Authority (NTCA), in his report submitted to the
Centre on Tuesday advised the state government for "an urgent CBI
probe which would, interalia, address the related issues such
as norms violations or corruption.
"The probe would expose violation of rules, corruption,
nexus, if any, between the lower functionaries of the park and
tourist operators etc as alleged by the villagers."
Gopal was asked by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to
probe the death of the tigress in Bandhavgarh on May 19 after
conservationists and locals raised hue and cry over the state
government`s claim that the feline had died due to injury
caused by a vehicle carrying tourists.
Detailed investigation has revealed that the tigress, a
breeding animal at "Jhurjhura" (Tala Range), died due to
vehicle hit but by the one carrying state officials including
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Umaria Zila Panchayat, the
It said that as per register at the gate of the park, the
vehicles were occupied by Akshay Kumar Singh -- CEO Zila
Panchayat of Umaria village -- and his relatives including
children, Lalit Kumar Pandey, range officer, Magdhi range and
K K Pandey, veterinary assistant surgeon of Tala range.
"There are enough arguments/ evidences which strongly
indicate that the two vehicles carrying the CEO, Zila
Panchayat Umaria, Range Officer, Magdhi and others are
involved in this accident," he said in the report.
The NTCA official also took strong note that Pandey owns
a lodge named `Tiger Heaven` and "wields considerable
influence in the area. He was also present during post-mortem
of the animal and had provided his vehicle to Singh on a
contractual basis or arrangement."
The report also pointed that their vehicles stayed beyond
the permitted park timings on May 18 and visited the in-situ
enclosure at Baheraha (Magdhi Range) for viewing tiger cubs in
violation of rules.
"Further, the vehicles also went to the tigress spot at
Tala and returned back via Bhadrashila barrier instead of the
main gate, which is also a cause of suspicion," the report
said, noting that the tigress was last seen by visitors and
photographed on May 17 till 5.00 pm near Jhurjhura dam.