Hyderabad: The National Tiger Conservation Authority, which investigated the killing of tigress T1 aka Avni in Maharashtra on November 2, has concluded that private hunter Asghar Ali Khan, who shot the tigress dead, violated the Indian Arms Act, 1959 using a gun without possessing a licence for it.
“He failed to produce his own all-India weapon licence which he claimed to possess,” a report by the committee headed by Assistant Inspector General of Forests Hemand Kamdi of NTCA said.
It further said the weapon Asghar Ali Khan used to kill the tigress, was licensed to his father ‘Nawab’ Shafat Ali Khan. “Asghar Ali Khan has not produced any authorisation from his father to use the gun in his absence. Mr Asghar Ali Khan used unauthorised weapon to eliminate T1,” the report said.
“It is clear violation of Section 3 of The Arms Act – 1959,” the committee concluded.
Asghar was also found to have violated laws relating to possession and use of highly restricted chemical immobilisation drugs as per the Veterinary Council of India and the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 for illegally killing a tiger.
The committee comprising Kamdi and retired Additional Principal Conservator of Forests OP Kaler and Deputy Director of Wildlife Trust of India Jose Louies, was set up on November 8 to investigate T1’s killing amidst a nation-wide uproar.
In its report to NTCA on November 28, the committee said Asghar was “hiding information” about the gun used in the killing and about the licence he claimed to have possessed for the weapon. “The fact is Asghar Ali Khan is totally inexperienced person and provided a false statement to the authority,” the report concluded.
Asghar told the committee hat he did not remember the make, model and specifications of two guns that he carried in the gypsy vehicle on the night he shot the tigress dead.
The committee said despite instructions from the Maharashtra Forest Department, Asghar failed to deposit the guns and the sent cartridge for forensic examination. The weapons and the cartridge were taken away to Hyderabad where Khan’s family has a home the day after T1 was killed.
The committee visited the spot in the forest where the tigress was shot as part of its investigations to reconstruct the sequence of events related to the killing. It also cross-examined as well as also took statements of Asghar Ali Khan, forester Mukhbir Sheikh, forest guards Govind Kendre and Dilip Keram and the driver of the gypsy Salman Barkat Khan.
It said it found that veterinarian Dr BM Kadu, who prepared the two darts had clearly instructed that they were to be used only in his presence but this instruction was violated by Asghar Ali Khan and Sheikh. Laws on use of tranquilising drugs were broken, it said as veterinary drugs were handled by unauthorised person during the operation. It also concluded that team involved in the killing “intervened” in a plan to capture T1 alive the next morning.