Tripura official suspended over lioness Sita row | India News

AGARTALA: Tripura govt suspended the state’s principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife and ecotourism) Prabin Lal Agrawal on Saturday amidst a controversy surrounding the naming of a zoo lion and lioness as Akbar and Sita, respectively. The suspension followed a complaint from VHP to Calcutta high court, alleging that the names hurt religious sentiments, reported.
The lion and lioness were relocated to North Bengal Wild Animals Park in Siliguri from Tripura’s Sepahijala zoo on Feb 12, as part of an animal exchange programme.
Agrawal, a 1994-batch IFS officer, was then serving as Tripura’s chief wildlife warden. He recorded the names of the lion couple as Akbar and Sita in the dispatch register while sending them to Siliguri.
Names were given by Tripura zoo authorities: Bengal forest department
This sparked public outrage, leading to a PIL filed by VHP’s Bengal unit in Jalpaiguri circuit bench of Calcutta HC on Feb 21. The HC bench ordered changing the names of the lion pair.
However, the Bengal forest department clarified that the names were given by Tripura, and any modification was the responsibility of Tripura zoo authorities. VHP then filed a writ petition in HC, claiming that the names were irrational and amounted to blasphemy.
“The court expressed its displeasure over the naming…,” said advocate Subhankar Dutta, representing VHP, adding that the matter would be taken up by a regular bench of HC shortly.
In response, Tripura govt sought clarification from Agrawal, who denied naming the lion couple as Sita and Akbar. Investigation revealed that the names were indeed given by Tripura wildlife officials during the animal exchange programme, leading to Agrawal’s suspension.


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