A police complaint was lodged on Sunday against Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, spiritual leader Sadhguru and others for allegedly violating wildlife protection laws during their jeep safari after dusk in the Kaziranga Nation Park the previous day.
The complaint was filed at the Bokakhat Police Station in Golaghat district by people living in villages on the fringe of the national park, a senior officer said.
“We have started an enquiry into the issue. As the KNP falls under the forest department, we have asked for a status report on the allegations from the divisional forest officer of the park,” he said. When contacted, an official at the KNP, who wished not to be named, expressed his difficulties to comment on the matter at this stage.
“People have a right to make an allegation, and based on it, an enquiry will be conducted. But before the matter is looked into, we cannot make any comment on it,” he said.
On the allegation of violation of wildlife protection laws, the official evaded a reply and said “things have to be viewed in perspective”.
“It was an official programme and sometimes, such an event runs a bit late. In such a situation, I don’t think we can call it a violation of law,” the official said, referring to the allegation of jeep safari after dusk.
In the complaint by Soneswar Narah and Prabin Pegu, residents of Morongiyal and Balijan Adarsh model villages near the park, it has been alleged that the jeep safari with the vehicle’s headlights blazing after dusk was “in violation of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972″.
They have demanded the immediate arrest of Sadhguru Jagdish ‘Jaggi’ Vasudev, Sarma, state Tourism Minister Jayanta Malla Baruah and others, who were part of the jeep safari.
Else, they wanted a public apology from the alleged violators as per law.
The complainants also demanded stringent action against the Sadhguru for entering the park after the end of the stipulated time for tourists and driving a jeep with headlights on.
Narah and Pegu asserted that the fringe dwellers have sacrificed their land, cattle and endured many hardships for the cause of protection of the park and have always abided by the rules and laws.
“Blatant disregard to the laws by VIPs should not be tolerated”, they said.
The issue has also been raised on social media by people.
Environment activist Rohit Choudhury wrote on Twitter, “Evening safari after sunset in @kaziranga_ ..!! Is this not Violation of Section 27 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972..?? Just asking…this is the outcome of a flop Chief Wildlife Warden @assamforest & flop Director @kaziranga_ @ntca_india @SPYadavIFS @moefcc.”
On Saturday evening, Sadhguru had driven a car in the national park with Sarma sitting beside him and other VIPs seated in the back of the vehicle.
The Kaziranga National Park was opened for tourists for the forthcoming season the previous day.
Sarma had also shared a short video of the safari on Twitter. Sadhguru, the Isha Foundation leader, was in Kaziranga for the opening of a three-day Chintan Shivir’ for ministers, legislators and bureaucrats of the state.
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