Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister (CM) Himanta Biswa Sarma has denied allegations by animal rights activists that he, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and Minister of Tourism Jayanta Malla Baruah broke the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972by entering Kaziranga National Park (KNP) for a night safari on Saturday.
Social media videos and local channels showed Vasudev driving an open-top safari SUV along with Sarma, Baruah and other VIPs sat with him after the park opened to tourists for the upcoming season on Friday.
Sharing a short video of the safari on Twitter, Sarma wrote: “His blessings are special. His teachings, extraordinary (sic). Respected @SadhguruJV, in whose presence Kaziranga National Park opened to tourists today, has a special message to save precious rhinos. And indeed he did enjoy the jeep safari. Tourism accompanied Min Shri @jayanta_malla.”
Sarma defended the night safari, saying there is no law that “prevents people from entering at night” and therefore “there is no violation”.
“According to the Wildlife Act, the warden can also authorize entry into a protected area at night. Yesterday we had the formal opening of the park for this season and now Sadhguru and Sri Ravi Shankar have arrived. As they have thousands of followers, this time we expect the tourist season for Kaziranga to be very good.” Sarma told reporters on Sunday evening, according to the news agency ANI.
MK Yadava, the chief conservator of Assam’s forests, said that since the Forest Service invited Vasudev and Sarma, “it is wrong to say that Sadhguru and our prime minister entered the park late at night and enjoyed the safari”. NDTV reported.
“All precautions were taken and there was no way to cancel the plan just because it was getting dark,” Yadava said.
Vasudev, who heads the Isha Foundation, was in Kaziranga to open a three-day Chintan Shivir for ministers, lawmakers and state bureaucrats. The foundation said he was invited by the government. “We believe that all necessary approvals have been granted by the government for this special occasion,” it said in a statement.
Activists Soneswar Narah and Prabin Pegu had lodged a complaint against Sarma, Vasudev and Baruah at Bokakhat police station in Golaghat district, claiming that the safari with the jeep’s headlights on after dark was “a violation of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 ” represented.
Narah and Pegu, residents of Morongiyal and Balijan Adarsh model villages, located near the park, also demanded the immediate arrest of Vasudev, Sarma, Baruah and other VIPs who were taking part in the jeep safari, or a public apology from the suspects transgressor. PTI reported.
Narah and Pegu called for strict action against Vasudev for entering the KNP after the time allotted for tourists and driving a jeep with the headlights on, saying that the outskirts sacrificed their land and livestock and endured many hardships to protect the park to protect and have always obeyed the law.
“We have lived in the outskirts of Kaziranga National Park for many years and have sacrificed many things for the National Park. Many of our people have been killed by forest workers and branded as poachers. Flagrant disregard for the law by VIPs should not be tolerated,” the activists said.
Narah, chief adviser, Jeepal Krishak Shramik Sangha, told reporters that although game drives were not allowed in the park after 4:00 p.m., “the three were seen after 6:00 p.m. enjoying a game drive in the national park and against wildlife protection.” act”. NDTV.
Narah asserted that “the law is the same for everyone,” saying, “How can they violate the Wildlife Protection Act? We would not tolerate such activities. They should be arrested for breaking the law.”
Environmental activist Rohit Choudhury tweeted: “After sunset evening safari in @kaziranga_ ..!! Isn’t that a violation (sic) of Section 27 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972..?? Just asking…this is the result of a flop Chief Wildlife Warden @assamforest & flop Director @kaziranga_ @ntca_india @SPYadavIFS @moefcc.”
A senior police official told the PTI that “an investigation into the issue” has been launched. “Because the KNP falls under the Forest Service, we asked the park’s departmental forest officer for a status report on the allegations,” he said.
A KNP official, who asked for anonymity, said PTI that “People have the right to make an allegation and an investigation will be conducted on that basis. But until the matter is looked into, we cannot say anything about it.”
The official dodged a response to allegations of violating animal welfare laws. “Things have to be looked at in perspective. It was an official program and sometimes such an event takes place a little late. In such a situation, I don’t think we can call it a breach of the law.”