ACTION SOUGHT AGAINST MORARI BAPU
A Porbandar-based advocate has demanded action against renowned Kathakar Morari Bapu and few forest officials for "organising and being part of illegal lion show" in prohibited area of Gir Sanctuary near Junagadh. Morari Bapu is currently in Junagadh for a Ram Katha. Talking to Mirror, lawyer Bhanu Odedara said: "I have written to the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court and Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) seeking action against them.
Lion shows are prohibited in Gir between June 15 and October 15. Despite this, forest officers tracked and located a lion for Morari Bapu and ten others either on October 8 or 9. The photos of the illegal lion show have gone viral on social media." In one of the photos, Morari Bapu can be seen sitting on a charpoy, surrounded by forest officials, and a lion sleeping in the middle of the road.
Commenting on the matter, Chief Conservator of Forest, Junagadh, S K Mehta told Mirror: "Based on the photographs, it appears Morari Bapu had taken a halt during 'Parikrama' of Girnar for which he was granted permission. In fact, Bapu had sought permission for 'Lili Parikrama (on-foot circuit)' of Girnar which was turned down looking at his age, as it would have involved walking a very long distance.
"He then decided to do the parikrama in a vehicle using the public road which remains open to public between 6am and 6 pm. "I am still probing into the incident and if someone is found guilty then action will be taken." According to Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, harassment of a wild animal can attract fine up to Rs 25,000 and harm to a wild animal attracts maximum imprisonment of 7 years. A senior forest official said cricketer Ravindra Jadeja was recently fined for taking a selfie with a lion in the background, by getting down from the jeep. Action was also taken against the forest officials accompanying him.