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Chief Conservator Suspended after Tripura Zoo Names Lions Akbar & Sita

In the midst of a naming controversy, Tripura's Chief Conservator is suspended as the High Court steps in to address the religious sentiments hurt by the names Akbar and Sita for the zoo's lions.

Chief Conservator Suspended after Tripura Zoo Names Lions Akbar & Sita
Source: Twitter

Agartala: The Tripura government took the decision to suspend Praveen Lal Aggarwal, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife and Eco-tourism), on Saturday amid a controversy surrounding the naming of the lion and lioness at the state's Sipahijala Zoo. The furore began when the pair, intended for an animal exchange program, were christened Akbar and Sita by wildlife officials in Tripura before being transferred to the North Bengal Wildlife Park in Siliguri on February 12.

 

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) lodged a complaint in the Calcutta High Court, contending that the names chosen for the lion couple were offensive to religious sentiments. This prompted a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Bengal unit of the VHP in the Jalpaiguri Circuit Bench of the High Court on February 21, leading to a subsequent court order to change the names.

 

Praveen Lal Aggarwal, a seasoned 1994 batch IFS officer who served as the Chief Wildlife Warden of Tripura, came under scrutiny for entering the names Akbar and Sita in the dispatch register during the transfer to Siliguri. The Bengal Forest Department clarified that the names were assigned by Tripura authorities, and any alterations would be the responsibility of the Tripura Zoo.

 

The VHP escalated the matter by filing a writ petition in the High Court, asserting that the names were defamatory. Expressing displeasure over the naming controversy, the High Court decided that the issue would be taken up before a regular bench in the near future, with Advocate Shubhankar Dutta representing the VHP.

 

In response to the escalating situation, the Tripura government sought clarification from Agarwal, who refused to acknowledge responsibility for naming the lion couple as Sita and Akbar. Subsequent investigations unveiled that these names were indeed assigned by Tripura wildlife officials as part of the animal exchange program, ultimately leading to Agarwal's suspension from his position.


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