Six months after her safari tour in South Africa, pictures of her with trophies of hunted animals have come back to haunt Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Minister Fauzia Khan. The Opposition led by Shiv Sena-BJP combine is now demanding her resignation on the grounds of killing wild animals, which is a punishable offense in India, though the incident occurred in an African country.
Khan, however, defended that the rival political parties were needlessly raking up the issue, as hunting was legal in S Africa. She also claimed that it was not she but the professionals who hunted the animals.
In May this year, Khan had visited S Africa along with her family. They were part of the safari organised by Umlilo Tours, which also offered hunting safari packages in Eastern Cape. They were assisted by professional hunters, who hunted Springbok, Black Wildebeest, Blesbuck, Zebra, etc. Khan and her family members are said to have posed before them, for photos.
Though Umlilo Tours promptly removed the images of Khan and her family from their website as an immediate fallout of the controversy, one picture of them posing before dead deer was still available on the web.
Khan claimed that there was nothing wrong in what she had done. “First of all, we did not kill the animals. It was killed by professionals. I just posed near their bodies. Hunting is legal in South Africa,” she maintained. The Minister also added that she and her family were all animal lovers and love wildlife.
However, the Opposition is not happy with Khan’s explanation and is pressing for her resignation. Citing the example of NCP Minister Dharmarao Atram, who had resigned after killing endangered Chinkara in Baramati, Shiv Sena MLA Ramdas Kadam demanded that the same rule should apply to Khan.
“I have seen the pictures where she is clearly seen posing before the dead animals, some of which fall under endangered species list in India. The government should probe her involvement in the hunting,” he said.