West Bengal: Name Change for Lions at Indian Zoo Ordered due to ‘Blasphemous’ Nature

An Indian court has directed a zoo in West Bengal state to rename two lions following a complaint from a conservative Hindu group regarding their religious sentiments.

The lioness was given the name of the Hindu deity Sita, while the lion was named Akbar, after the 16th Century Mughal ruler.

VHP challenged the decision, arguing that naming the lioness after a goddess was disrespectful.

The lions‘ presence in the wildlife park was also met with objection.

The two large felines are currently residing in the North Bengal Wild Animals Park in Siliguri district.

The court ruled that animals should not be named after religious figures, Nobel laureates, and freedom fighters.

“You could have chosen a name like Bijli [lightning] or something similar.” Why name them Akbar and Sita?” Justice Saugata Bhattacharya inquired.

The court inquired about the wisdom of naming pets, such as dogs, after individuals. The judge pointed out that the controversy could have been avoided.

The VHP, connected to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), claimed to have received complaints from various regions across the country regarding the lions’ names.

“She [Sita] is the consort of [Hindu god] Lord Ram and herself is a sacred deity to all Hindus across the world,” it stated. This action is considered blasphemous and a direct attack on the religious beliefs of Hindus.

The organisation accused authorities in West Bengal, governed by an opposition party, of intentionally taking this action and warned of potential protests if the names and location of the big cats were not altered.

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VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal stated that Sita and Akbar cannot coexist.

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