Thursday, October 12, 2017

Morari Bapu, lion photo: Forest department begins probe

Morari Bapu, lion photo: Forest department begins probe

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat forest department has begun an investigation into allegations made by a Porbandar advocate against kathakar Morari Bapu and forest officials about "organizing and being part of an illegal lion show" in protected limits of Girnar. The pictures of Morari Bapu — taken between October 8 and 9 in Girnar forests — with a lion in the foreground have gone viral.

Principal chief conservator of forests G K Sinha told TOI, "We are examining route permissions Morari Bapu had sought for the Girnar Parikrama. Permissions were given for certain portions of the route and not for the entire route." Forest officials said that Morari Bapu had sought permission this year for Girnar Parikrama within Girnar forest limits where pilgrim movement is allowed. The route winds through 'forest department only' and pilgrim-access areas. A senior forest official investigating the matter said that cricketer Ravindra Jadeja had got down from his jeep to take selfies in the Gir sanctuary which is roughly 48km from the Girnar sanctuary.

"We were trying to involve Morari Bapu in a campaign against plastic pollution along the Lili Parikrama route of Girnar," a senior forest officer said. "Over the past few years, we have retrieved tonnes of plastic wrappers, bottles, cases, and footwear on the route. Morari Bapu wanted to see a portion of the route to gauge the problem."

The official went on to say: "But a few members of Morari Bapu's entourage took photographs which landed them in trouble." Six trackers had accompanied Morari Bapu on the Girnar Parikrama. As for Jadeja, he had tweeted on Wednesday, "It is the same place, same story. Want to see what they are going to do now".

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