Minister slammed for wielding gun while searching for maneater leopard
Days after taking flak for suggesting liquor brands be named after women, Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan courted controversy again when he wielded a pistol while accompanying a search party looking for a leopard.
The minister’s act was caught on camera and is now viral on social media.
On Monday, Mahajan had visited the house of Dipali Jagtap, who was earlier killed by the leopard in Chalisgaon Tehsil of Jalgaon district.
While the senior BJP leader was returning after offering condolences to the family, he was informed that the leopard had been sighted near Navegaon locality of Warkhede village.
In the video, which has been widely circulated and also being played by several television news channels, the state medical education minister is purportedly seen participating in the search operation with the pistol in his hand.
Mahajan said the leopard was sighted around 400 feet from his convoy and that he joined the forest department officials and police personnel in the search.
“My intention was not to kill the leopard, but to fire in the air, if needed. I took out the gun for which I have a license,” he said in reaction to the controversy.
The team, however, was unsuccessful in tracing the animal.
“We were told that Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had permitted shooting of the animal at sight for killing people,” Mahajan said.
The leopard has killed five people in the district in the past one-and-a-half months, the minister said.
Meanwhile, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said Mahajan should be sacked and an offense be registered against him for allegedly flouting forest and wildlife laws.
Incidentally, this is not the first time the minister has courted controversy. In March 2015, Mahajan was seen at a school function armed with his licensed gun. He later justified that he carried the weapon for ‘self-defense’.
The minister had also landed in a soup earlier this month for suggesting that liquor brands be named after women for increased demand. He apologized for his remarks later.
With agency inputs