Controversy over Assam CM,Sadhguru’s night safari in Kaziranga National Park

Complaint lodged against Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for violating wildlife rules

September 26, 2022 10:02 am | Updated 02:18 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Screengrab from video showing Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on September 24, 2022, at Kaziranga National Park. Photo: Twitter/@himantabiswa

Screengrab from video showing Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on September 24, 2022, at Kaziranga National Park. Photo: Twitter/@himantabiswa


Two local activists have lodged a complaint against Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev for violating the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, by going on a night safari inside the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve on September 24.

Soneswar Narah of Morongial Gaon and Pradeep Pegu of Balijan Adarsha Mishing Gaon also named Assam’s Tourism Minister Jayanta Malla Baruah in their complaint registered at the Bokakhat Police Station in Golaghat district.

Bokakhat, about 230 km east of Guwahati, is where the headquarters of the national park is located.

“We demand legal action against the Chief Minister and the others who violated rules in going on a nocturnal jungle safari. They should also issue a public apology for setting a precedent that could threaten the traditional security policy of the national park,” their complaint in Assamese read.

The spiritual guru courted controversy by driving a safari vehicle for about two kilometres inside the tiger reserve after the inauguration of a rhino memorial two hours behind the 3.30 pm schedule on Saturday. The ashes of 2,479 rhino horns burnt a year ago went into the constructing the memorial.

Mr. Sarma was on the passenger seat while Mr. Baruah sat in the back of the vehicle along with officials and guards.  

“His blessings are special. His teachings, extraordinary. Revered @SadhguruJV, in whose presence Kaziranga National Park opened today for tourists, has a special message to save precious Rhinos. And indeed, he enjoyed the Jeep Safari,” the Chief Minister tweeted at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Mr. Baruah also took to social media announcing the opening of Kaziranga for tourists, hours after the State’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, M.K. Yadava, said the national park would be opened on October 15.

But Field Officers of the Forest Department said the park would be open for VIPs for four days as a special case. The four days coincide with a ‘Chintan Shivir’ at Kaziranga, where some leading spiritual gurus are taking part.

Environment activists have panned the night safari. “Evening safari after sunset in Kaziranga! Is this not violation of Section 27 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act?” asked Rohit Choudhury based in Golaghat district’s Garmur.

The Section restricts the entry in a wildlife sanctuary of any person other than a public servant on duty.

“It is unfortunate that someone like Sadhguru, who we expect to practice what he preaches, has no sensitivity towards animals. It is common knowledge that wild animals in their protected homes get disturbed by lights and noises of vehicles at night,” said Golaghat-based Apurba Ballave Goswami.

The nocturnal outing in Kaziranga is tantamount to teasing or molesting wild animals, restricted under Section 27 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, activists said, also slamming Forest Department officials for “bowing to VIP pressure”.

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