Kaziranga 'evening safari': Assam CM Himanta Sarma defends action, says no such law that stops visitors at night

A day after a complaint was filed against Himanta Sarma and Sadhguru for breaking the law by driving inside the Kaziranga National Park beyond scheduled time, the Assam CM on Monday defended his action by saying that there is no such law that stops people from visiting the park at night.

FP Staff September 26, 2022 10:07:09 IST
Kaziranga 'evening safari': Assam CM Himanta Sarma defends action, says no such law that stops visitors at night

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma. ANI

New Delhi: A day after a police complaint was lodged against Himanta Biswa Sarma and spiritual leader Sadhguru for violating the Wildlife (Protection) Act by driving a safari vehicle inside the Kaziranga National Park beyond the scheduled time, the Assam Chief Minister on Monday defended his action by saying that there is no such law that stops people from visiting the park at night.

“There’s no law that people can’t go at night. People can enter the park even at 2 am if wildlife wardens allow,” he said.

A police complaint was lodged on Sunday against the Assam Chief Minister, Sadhguru and others for allegedly violating wildlife protection laws during their jeep safari after dusk in the Kaziranga National 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.

With inputs from agencies

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