BAHAWALPUR: In a shocking incident, a mauled and mutilated body of an unidentified man was found in the tigers’ cage at the local zoo called ‘Shair Bagh’ (lion garden) under mysterious circumstances on Wednesday.

As per wildlife department sources, it seems the tigers ate some of the flesh of the body’s lower torso, including legs. The victim, unidentified so far, was clad in trousers and shirt.

The human body was allegedly discovered by a zoo employee when he went to the cage in the morning to feed the four tigers kept there.

On receipt of the information about the recovery of a man’s body from the tigers’ cage, Deputy Commissioner Zaheer Anwar Jappa, accompanied by Rescue 1122 District Emergency Officer (DEO) Baqir Hussain, rushed to the zoo.

The zoo was established in 1940s during the reign of (now defunct) Bahawalpur State’s late ruler Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V.

The DC said that a thorough inquiry into the mysterious death of a man in the tigers’ cage would be conducted and the negligent zoo officials would be taken to task.

He said so far none has contacted the police or zoo administration to claim the body.

The police officials and forensic teams, who also reached zoo, collected evidence from the scene.

The rescuers later shifted the body to the morgue of Bahawal Victoria Hospital(BVH) for the postmortem examination.

Bahawalpur Division Wildlife Deputy Director Ali Usman Bokhari, who is officiating curator of the zoo, told Dawn that he had gone to Multan for an official meeting, but had to rush back after being informed that a man’s body had been found in the tigers’ cage.

He said quoting the zoo employees that one of them found the half-eaten human body when he visited the tigers’ cage on Wednesday morning.

According to the curator, the dead man appeared to be a drug addict or mentally challenged, adding that though the tigers had mauled the body and eaten the flesh of lower torso, the victim’s face and upper parts were still intact.

Bokhari, like other zoo officials, expressed his ignorance when asked how the man manged to enter the tigers’ cage. He said the matter is yet to probed.

He said no CNIC or any other document was found on the deceased man to determine his identity.

The curator said the body has been shifted to BVH for the postmortem examination, adding that the autopsy report might reveal facts of the matter.

He said during the inquiry, the night-shift zoo staff would also be questioned how the man got access to the tigers’ cage.

Meanwhile, Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, taking notice of the incident, sought a report from the Punjab wildlife secretary and the Bahawalpur commissioner.

Mr Naqvi ordered a thorough inquiry into the man’s death in the tigers’ cage, besides security audit of the zoo. He also ordered strict action against the negligent zoo officials.

According to an official handout, Commissioner Dr Ehtasham Anwar Mahar has constituted a committee to conduct a probe into the incident.

The additional deputy commissioner (revenue ) is convener of the inquiry committee, while its members include the head of forensic department of Quaid-e-Azam Medical College (QAMC), Bahawalpur, Forest Conservators Sheikh Manzoor Ahmed, Punjab Forensic Science Agency’s local head, Rescue 1122 DEO, and in charge of the police crime scene investigation, Punjab.

The committee has been directed to submit its initial report within 24 hours and a detailed report, fixing the responsibility for the incident, within seven days.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2023

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