Rename Lions Called ‘Sita’ & ‘Akbar’, HC Tells Bengal Govt; Check Court’s Argument

OB Bureau

Kolkata: What’s in a name?

Well, names do matter. More so in some cases, as the West Bengal government found out.

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday asked the state administration to rename a lion and a lioness called ‘Akbar’ and ‘Sita’, respectively.

Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) had protested about the naming of wild cats, which were lodged in the same enclosure at Bengal Safari Park in Siliguri, reported Bar and Bench.

A single-judge bench of Justice Saugata Bhattacharya, while hearing a petition by VHP over its objection to the naming of a lioness as ‘Sita’, urged the state to consider giving the lions some other names to ensure that any controversy is put to rest.

The court observed that goddess Sita is worshipped by many in India and Akbar was an efficient and successful Mughal emperor.

“Mr Counsel, will you yourself name your own pet after some Hindu God or Muslim Prophet … I think, if any one of us would have been the authority, none of us would have named them as Akbar and Sita. Can anyone of us think of naming an animal after Rabindranath Tagore?” Justice Bhattacharya said.

“Sita is worshipped by a large section of this country … I also oppose naming the lion after Akbar. He was an efficient, successful and secular Mughal Emperor,” he added.

The state government told the high court that the two lions were given their names by Tripura Zoo authorities in 2016 and 2018, before the animals were transferred to West Bengal.

The VHP had also opposed the state government’s decision to keep the lions together as it was disrespectful to Hindus, and demanded a change in the name of the lioness.

Interestingly, Indian zoos do have animals named after Gods and Goddesses.

For instance, Delhi Zoological Park has a white tigress called Sita, while a cheetah in Kuno National Park is named after Agni, the God of fire.

OB Bureau

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