A police complaint was registered on Sunday, 25 September, against Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and self-proclaimed spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev for allegedly entering Assam's Kaziranga Nation Park on Saturday night, 24 September for a night Safari.
The complaint has been filed by Soneswar Narah and Prabin Pegu, residents of Morongiyal and Balijan Adarsh model villages near the park, at the Bokakhat police station in Golaghat district.
In their complaint, it has been alleged that the jeep safari with the vehicle's headlights blazing after dusk was "in violation of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972."
"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," a senior police official said, as quoted by news agency PTI.
Sadhguru was in Kaziranga for the opening of a three-day ‘Chintan Shivir' for ministers, legislators and bureaucrats of the state.
'No Violation': CM Sarma
In the view of the complaint, Sarma on Sunday told reporters, "There is no violation. According to wildlife law, the warden can give permission to enter a protected area even at night. No law stops people from entering at night. Yesterday, we had the formal opening of the park for this season and now Sadhguru and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar have arrived. Since they have lakhs of followers, this time we expect the tourist season will be very good for Kaziranga," reported ANI.
Assam's Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force (HoFF), and Chief Wildlife Warden, MK Yadava, said, "There's a hidden agenda behind this to defame Kaziranga National Park and people making these statements aren't aware of actual facts and haven't even tried to know the facts."
"All the guests were invited by us. So it is wrong to say that Sadhguru and our CM entered the park and enjoyed the safari late at night. All arrangements were made and there was no way that we could take it back just because it was becoming dark," he added.
What Did the Complainants Say?
The complainants 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 want a public apology from the alleged violators as per law, reported PTI. They also demanded stringent action against 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 said 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.
Netizens React to Night Safari
Environment activist Rohit Choudhury wrote on Twitter, "Evening safari after sunset in at 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 and flop Director @kaziranga_ @ntca_india @SPYadavIFS @moefcc."
"Clear violation of Wild Life Protection Act 1972. KNP is closed for any visitor. Gypsy driven by a religious self styled Guru inside park at night to disturb wild life for self fantasy. Unfair," wrote a user in reply to chief minister's tweet.
Ashraful Hussain, MLA from Chenga, Assam said, "It’s very unfortunate that a person whose so called mission is to conserve soil and wildlife violated all the norms and visited Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary in Gypsy after sunset, that too with cavalcade of security. Is Sadhguru and the CM above the law?"
(With inputs from PTI and ANI.)