The BJP in West Bengal is planning to rope in Hindutva preacher Swami Aseemanand, who was acquitted in the Mecca Masjid blast case earlier this week, to strengthen its base, its State unit chief said here on Thursday.“I have personally known Swami Aseemanand for a long time. I will talk to him and try to bring him to West Bengal so that he can work here. For a long time, he has worked among the tribals in Bengal. He can help us in a lot of ways,” BJP State president Dilip Ghosh said.A special anti-terror court on Monday acquitted the 66-year-old self-confessed monk and four others in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, holding that the prosecution failed to prove “even a single allegation” against them.Aseemanand’s younger brother, Sushanta Sarkar, is presently secretary of the BJP’s Hooghly unit.Mr. Sarkar said he would be happy if his brother returned to the State to work. “Our entire family is dedicated towards the Sangh Parivar. If my brother comes to Bengal and wants to work here, we will be very happy,” Mr. Sarkar said.A science graduateAseemanand, who was born Naba Kumar Sarkar at Kamarpukur in West Bengal’s Hooghly district, completed his graduation in science in 1971.He became involved with right-wing groups from school, going on to work full time with the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Purulia and Bankura districts of the State. It was at the ashram that Naba Kumar Sarkar was christened Swami Aseemanand in 1981.
The administration of eastern Assam’s Golaghat district had set a week’s deadline to Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) to demolish a boundary wall erected on a major elephant corridor.The Supreme Court had on January 18 ordered NRL to remove the 2.2 km wall around its proposed township that included a golf course. The refinery was given a month’s time to comply.In a notice to NRL’s Chief General Manager (Human Resources) on February 14, the district’s Deputy Commissioner said the refinery should demolish the entire wall within seven days and ensure that the land so acquired was kept free of any barrier for facilitating the movement of elephants.The order, the notice pointed out, was in reference to the apex court’s order as well as that of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2016.Environmentalists had objected to the wall the refinery had erected in 2011 in – as the NGT had observed later – a part of the 133.45-hectare Deopahar Reserve Forest which the Assam Forest Department notified a day after the Supreme Court’s order.The refinery received flak from wildlife activists when a seven-year-old male elephant died of haemorrhage in May 2015 after trying to force its way through the wall. Videos also captured herds trying to cross the high boundary wall with barbed wire in vain. In August 2016, the NGT ordered NRL to demolish the wall within a month, but only a 289-metre stretch was demolished.The refinery challenged the NGT order to demolish the entire wall, but the Supreme Court said “there cannot be any township as elephants have the first right on forest”.