NGO staff fishes in park to make point

Guwahati, March 22 : A member of an NGO today went fishing inside Kaziranga National Park, apparently to protest against the delay in arresting two legislators who invaded the sanctuary and assaulted a forest guard.
Sanjeeb Baruah, secretary of the Upper Assam unit of Seven Sisters, the NGO, was apprehended near the Kathpora beel under Kohora range of the park around noon. A fishing net was recovered from his possession.
Baruah, when contacted on his cellphone, told The Telegraph from the forest range office at Kohora that the forest department “has no right” to arrest him since they had failed to arrest the two MLAs — Jiten Gogoi and Kushal Duari — who were caught red-handed fishing in the park.
“The law of the land is the same for everyone. How can they arrest me when they failed to arrest the two MLAs?” Baruah asked. Seven Sisters has been working in educational institutions near Kaziranga to spread awareness on protecting animals for several years.
The two MLAs are still absconding, though the police have sounded a red alert throughout the state. A tourism department employee who had accompanied the two MLAs has been placed under suspension. He, too, is absconding.
The Assam Forest Employees’ Association has set a 10-day deadline for the arrest of the MLAs and threatened to launch an agitation.
The park’s director, S.N. Buragohain, said since Baruah had been caught with a fishing net inside the national park, a case had to be registered against him.
“I understand Baruah’s action but this is not the way to protest. Fishing inside Kaziranga is banned,” Buragohain said. He added that the law would take its own course.
The All Assam Students’ Union today demanded the immediate arrest of the duo.
According to UNI, the absconding MLA Jiten Gogoi, however, told a local TV channel over phone: “I am in Guwahati. I had never gone underground but the police have not come to search for me.”