LUCKNOW: What’s in a name? A lot, believe a section of Muslims from Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh. Upset by the name of a man-eating tiger – Mustafa – caged for the last 22 months in the Lucknow Zoo, they have launched a stir under the banner of the Kheri Ekta Parishad for the last two days.
“It is sheer disrespect to our prophet. He is often known by the epithet ‘Mustafa’ which means the ‘one who is chosen’ in Arabic. We will not let it continue,” asserts Mohammad Ashraf Khan who heads the outfit.
“The name ‘Mustafa’ given to a man-eater is bound to hurt the sentiments of the Muslim community,” said another member of the Ekta Parishad.
Not only did the Kheri Ekta Parishad lodge a strong protest over the issue by taking out a procession with posters and banners, but they also handed over a memorandum, addressed to the state governor, to Lakhimpur Kheri District Magistrate Shailendra Singh. The DM acknowledged that he had received a demand and had forwarded it to the authorities concerned for action.
The outfit also demanded legal action against the person who named the man-eater. “We want the forest official, who named the man-eater as Mustafa, booked and an FIR lodged against him. It seems to be a deliberate attempt to defame Islam,” says Khan.
The tiger whose name has stirred up such a big controversy had devoured six people before being brought to Lucknow Zoo where it is kept in an isolated enclosure but can be seen from a distance by the visitors.
Mustafa, 4, weighing 150 kg, was rescued from Mustafabad in Pilibhit tiger reserve in February 2017. It was brought to Lucknow Zoo with another man-eater Chhedilal who had also killed around six people in the same tiger reserve. Both Mustafa and Chhedilal had a reign of terror in the terrains of terai across Lakhimpur Kheri, Mailani and Pilibhit.
Denying any ulterior motive behind the man-eater's name, Lucknow Zoo director RK Singh said, “In fact, the animal is named after the place it is rescued from. Since this man-eater was rescued from Mustafabad range of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, we named him Mustafa to keep its identity intact.”
“Similarly, another man-eating tiger was brought to Lucknow along with Mustafa from Chhedipur range, so we named it Chhedilal. Moreover, two tigresses – Mailani and Kishna – were rescued from Mailani and Kishanpur range and were named accordingly,” says Singh.
The Lucknow Zoo director added, “There has been no intention to hurt religious feelings of any faith or community. It is a traditional way of naming the animal and in this case also it was done as per the norms laid down.”
He said he had neither received any formal complaint over the tiger's name nor had he got any direction from the higher authorities in this regard.