VHP Files Case in Calcutta High Court Regarding ‘Sita’ and ‘Akbar’ Lions at Siliguri Zoo

VHP Files Case in Calcutta High Court Regarding 'Sita' and 'Akbar' Lions at Siliguri Zoo
VHP Files Case in Calcutta High Court Regarding 'Sita' and 'Akbar' Lions at Siliguri Zoo

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) went to court because they didn’t like that a lioness was called “Sita” and a male lion was called “Akbar” at a zoo in Siliguri.

They asked the Calcutta High Court in Jalpaiguri district to do something about it.

The VHP denounces the names as ‘irrational’ and ‘blasphemous’.

The problem started when the two big cats came from Tripura’s Sepahijala Zoo as part of an animal swap on February 12, as reported by The Indian Express.

In a legal document filed on Friday, the VHP said the names were “irrational,” “illogical,” and “tantamount to blasphemy,” arguing that they hurt religious sentiments. The hearing is set for February 20 before Justice Saugata Bhattacharyya.

According to VHP’s Jalpaiguri unit chief, Dulal Chandra Roy, the organization had repeatedly protested against the names of state forest officials before resorting to legal action.

The VHP is urging for prompt action.

Vinod Bansal, the VHP national spokesperson, stressed that the matter was urgent and requested the court to act quickly, which includes renaming the lioness and avoiding using religious names for animals in zoos.

Representing the VHP, Advocate Subhankar Dutta mentioned that they filed the petition after the organization informed state authorities about the problem.

The petition filed by the VHP stated: “On February 8, 2024, Sepahijala Zoological Park handed over one male lion and a lioness along with eight other animals to North Bengal Wildlife Animals Park, Siliguri for the said animal exchange program.

The Bengal Safari Park has named the female lion as ‘Sita’. By using the name of ‘Sita’ for a lioness, the respondent authority is hurting the religious sentiments of Sanatan Dharm.”

“Such naming of a cat family after a religious deity, namely Sita, is irrational, illogical…The outrageous nomenclature has angered petitioners’ religious sentiments. That it is stated by the petitioner that such naming of animals after the name of religious deities is very much sacrilegious and tantamount to blasphemy…” the petition further stated.

However, West Bengal forest minister and TMC MLA Birbaha Hansda disagreed with the allegations, stating that the names were decided by Tripura Zoo and accused the VHP of playing “dirty politics.”

Officials confirmed that the lions, named Akbar and Sita, are presently lodged separately in Siliguri and are expected to be displayed together in two months.

The animals were exchanged between Tripura’s Sepahijala Zoo and the North Bengal Wildlife Park, with the latter receiving a lion and lioness named Ram and Sita.

Officials from Sepahijala Zoo clarified that animals are identified by codes rather than names, and records show that the lions were named Ram and Sita.

This animal exchange program is the first of its kind in the last decade for Sepahijala Zoo and Wildlife Sanctuary, which is Tripura’s oldest and largest zoo and sanctuary.

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