Row Over Naming Lion Pair \'akbar\' & \'sita\': Top Tripura Forest Dept Official Suspended

Row over naming lion pair ‘Akbar’ & ‘Sita’: Top Tripura Forest Dept official suspended

Agartala, Feb 26 : Tripura’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife and Ecotourism) Prabin Lal Agrawal has been suspended for reportedly misleading the state government after a row emerged over naming of a lioness as ‘Sita’ and lion as ‘Akbar’, a top official said on Monday.

 Row Over Naming Lion Pair 'akbar' & 'sita': Top Tripura Forest Dept Official

Agrawal, a senior Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer of the 1994 batch, reportedly misled the state’s council of ministers after a controversy emerged over the naming of a lioness as ‘Sita’ and lion as ‘Akbar’.

As part of the animal exchange programme and following the guidelines of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) a pair of Royal Bengal Tiger, a pair of leopards, four golden pheasants, four silver pheasants, two peafowls, and four hill mynas came to Tripura’s Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary and zoo earlier this month from the North Bengal zoo in West Bengal’s Siliguri.

In a reciprocal gesture a lion couple — ‘Sita’ and ‘Akbar’, a pair of spectacle monkeys (also known as ‘Chasma Banar’), two leopard cats, and four blackbucks were sent to North Bengal zoo in Siliguri from the Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary and zoo.

The Calcutta High Court’s Circuit Bench at Jalpaiguri said that animals should not be named after God or a revered personalities or renowned persons, after the Bengal wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has moved the Court challenging the naming of the lion couple as ‘Sita’ and ‘Akbar’.

Hearing the VHP petition, the High Court bench asked the West Bengal government to change the names of the lion pair but the Bengal forest department through its counsel told the court, the names of the lion and lioness were given by Tripura and as per law, any modification of naming was the responsibility of the Tripura zoo authorities.

“After a Bengal forest department communication, the Tripura government asked Agrawal about the issue, but he reportedly misled the state’s council of ministers over the naming of the lion couple.Subsequently, it was found in the official records that Agrawal has the responsibility in naming the big cats and keeping the government in the dark.

Then the state government suspended him on Friday (February 23),” a top Tripura government official told IANS, refusing to be named.

When sought for his comments, the PCCF (Wildlife and Ecotourism and Chief Wildlife Warden) told IANS that he is unable to talk to the media over the issue.

The suspension order of the Tripura government has said that disciplinary proceedings against Agrawal are contemplated/pending.

“.therefore, the Competent Authority in exercise of powers, hereby places Agrawal under suspension with immediate effect.It is further ordered that during the period that this order shall remain in force, the headquarters of Agrawal will be at Agartala and the said Agrawal shall not leave the headquarters without obtaining the prior permission of the competent authority,” the order said.

Officials said that seven-year-old ‘Akbar’ was selected for the Bengal Safari Park by the Central Zoo Authority and the State Zoo Authority.

On the other hand, six-year-old ‘Sita’ was born in Tripura’s Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary and zoo in 2018.

Agrawal is the first top all-India service officer in Tripura so far suspended from service.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at [email protected])


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