Minor Rape case filed against Andaman Congress Counsellor #Vaw

Port Blair, 10 January: A Congress party councillor in the Anadaman and Nicobar Islands has been accused of raping a minor girl, media reports said on Thursday.

According to initial reports, the girl was raped in a hotel.

Police sources said the Congress leader Mahendra Prasad would be arrested soon since a case has been registered against him.

SP South Andaman Mandeep Singh Randhawa toldBengal Newz that police are preparing to arrest Prasad.

More details were awaited.


To protect or to empower? Jarawa Tribe

Author(s): Kumar Sambhav , Down to Earth
Issue: May 15, 2012

Parliamentary standing committee reiterates its demand to bring Jarawas into mainstream


THE Centre is once again tied in knots over whether the Jarawa tribe should be protected in isolation or brought into mainstream. Brushing aside a policy formulated in 2004, a parliamentary standing committee on March 21 asked the Centre to bring the tribe into the mainstream.

With a population of just about 300, Jarawa is an ancient tribe of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and has little immunity to outside illnesses. The Policy on Jarawa Tribe of Andaman Islands mandates limited interference in the tribe’s cultural life. No attempt should be made to bring the tribe into the mainstream against their will, the policy states. But for long, some politicians, including member of Parliament from the islands, Bishnu Pada Ray, have been demanding an aggressive policy to integrate the tribe into the mainstream.

The parliamentary standing committee on social justice and empowerment had given a similar recommendation in August last year and said that minimum damage to the tribe and its cultural heritage should be ensured.

“At this juncture when many Jarawas are willing to come into the mainstream and lead a modern lifestyle, it would not be appropriate to suppress their voice and leave them in total isolation, unattended and without care,” the committee said in its Report on Demands for Grants.

In September 2010, the tribal affairs ministry constituted a committee headed by its secretary to review the policy. However, it did not initiate further action. Last year, the National Advisory Council (NAC), headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, asked the ministry to review the policy. The ministry’s committee then asked the Andaman and Nicobar administration to send a group of experts to the middle and south of the islands to assess “the actual perceptions, needs and expectations of the Jarawas”.

The expert group examined the situation and suggested that the government conduct a social impact assessment, and monitor movement patterns and nutrition of the Jarawas. It said the Jarawa policy should be changed to empower the tribe to deal with the challenges of integration with the mainstream (see ‘Jarawas: To protect or not’, Down To Earth, February 15, 2012).

The ministry’s committee, however, told NAC that there was no need to change the policy. In fact, it said that the recommendations made by the group of experts were already covered in the policy. The Andaman and Nicobar administration must undertake evidence-based research studies if changes are to be made in the policy, it said. The ministry sent the committee’s report to the parliamentary standing committee.

But the parliamentary panel did not buy the ministry’s argument. In its recent statement it said there is a need to undertake research on topics suggested by the group of experts. “The committee reiterates its earlier recommendation to review the policy on the Jarawa tribe and bring necessary changes in the policy which should facilitate a slow and smooth process of transition,” it says. The government should send a fresh action taken report to the committee within three months, it said. Tribal ministry officials refused to comment on the parliamentary panel’s stand.

Andaman Nicobar island case – new videos suggest role of Indian Police

Jarawa girls told to dance semi-naked for the camera as two videos offer fresh proof of official involvement in ‘human safaris’

Gethin Chamberlain

The Observer, Sat 4 Feb 2012
Two videos obtained by the Observer offer fresh proof of official involvement in “human safaris” to see the protected Jarawa tribe of the Andaman Islands.

A three minutes and 19 seconds clip, shot on a mobile phone, shows half-naked girls from the tribe dancing for a seated Indian police officer. A second, shorter clip again focuses on a girl’s nudity, while men in military uniform mill around.

The new evidence comes as authorities in Orissa state set an example to their counterparts in the Andamans by moving swiftly to end human safaris to see the Bonda tribe, another abuse revealed by an Observer investigation.

The Indian government had ordered both sets of officials to take swift action to investigate and prevent abuse. In an interview last week, tribal affairs minister V Kishore Chandra Deo said exploitation by outsiders had to be stopped.

A preliminary report quickly commissioned by the Orissa government concluded that the Bonda needed greater protection. Officials suggested that tourists would in future be banned from photographing the tribe and all cameras would have to be deposited with officials before they could enter the area. Two tour operators have already been charged with selling tribal tours “in an obscene manner”.

Police in the Andamans have repeatedly denied any involvement in human safaris after an Observer investigation last month found evidence that officers had accepted bribes to allow tourists to meet and film the Jarawa. A video of young Jarawa women being ordered to dance in return for food caused outrage in India and around the world.

But the new videos raise fresh questions about the complicity of officers who are supposed to be protecting the tribe.

An off-camera voice at the start of the longer clip is heard to tell the girls: “Dance”. Initially, the camera is focused on the breasts of the oldest girl. A few second later, the man tells the girls: “Move back, move back a little, a little more”. They do, until they are all in shot. The girls are young, wearing red string skirts and jewellery. “Do it,” the voice tells them, and they start to dance again, swaying their hips and clapping.

Halfway through, the camera pans round briefly to show a police officer sitting by the side of the road, watching. For the opening seconds, the camera focuses on the girls’ baskets: inside are items including a packet of Parle-G biscuits – a popular Indian brand.

The second video is less structured and shows a group of young Jarawa being filmed with military personnel. The camera points first at a bare-breasted girl. A male voice, off camera, tells her, “isko to de” (“at least give me that”), which prompts her to run to protect her basket of belongings. The clip ends with a male voice saying, “chal chal” (“get lost”).

The words are spoken in Hindi. The speakers are, it appears, members of the Indian defence forces (the Andamans is unusual in that it has a force structure combining all three military services, known as the Andaman and Nicobar Command). Neither video is datestamped, but the longer one is understood to have surfaced about two months ago in Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Indian government ordered a crackdown on human safaris after the Observer revealed that hundreds of tourists drove through the Jarawa jungle every day on the Andaman trunk road, taking photos of the tribe and throwing them fruit, biscuits and other snacks.

The Jarawa are believed to have lived on the islands for tens of thousands of years but did not make contact with outsiders until about 14 years ago.

Campaigners say police are heavily involved in abusing the trust of the Jarawa. Six years ago, a report for the Indian government’s National Advisory Council, chaired by Sonia Gandhi, president of the ruling Congress party, warned about the sexual exploitation of Jarawa women and the involvement of police. Despite reports of Jarawa girls being seen entering police huts at night, and the birth of a non-Jarawa child, no action was taken.

The original Observer investigation found evidence that some police officers were taking bribes to allow tourists to meet and film the Jarawa inside their jungle reserve, both of which are illegal.

The Indian government has taken a hard line, ordering the governments of the Andamans and Orissa to investigate and take action to prevent future abuse.

The tribal affairs minister said last week that the government would review its policy on the Jarawa within the next 12 months, and promised to consult the tribe. He said: “Their land rights have to be protected. Their sources of livelihood have to be protected. Finally, their exploitation by outsiders has to be checked.” The minister has also written to the Orissa government and promised to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of culprits.

Although Orissa has taken swift action, there was embarrassment for ministers last week when it was revealed that tribal people were being paraded for visitors to a state-run exhibition. Human rights activists protested that the government was “making a circus” out of the tribes. Several tribal people had been brought to the exhibition in Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa, and told to sit outside models of tribal houses for visitors. In the face of protests, organisers quickly withdrew the human exhibits.

Andaman police failed to respond to the new allegations, claiming to be unable to view evidence submitted by the Observer because of problems with their internet connection. Earlier the commander-in-chief of defence forces on the islands had promised to take “appropriate action” if evidence was found of the involvement of military personnel.

Denis Giles, the campaigning editor of the islands’ Andaman Chronicle newspaper, says the tribespeople believe the police are protecting them; the reality is that they are being used.

He says police have taught the Jarawa to beg. Officers take the money they collect and give them tobacco, which they never previously used, and food. The possibility of abuse is obvious, and Giles says there have been cases where women have given birth to children fathered by outsiders. The babies are not accepted by the Jarawa and are killed, he says.

Like many previously uncontacted tribes, the Jarawa are vulnerable to new diseases. They have started succumbing to measles and mumps and even malaria, to which they previously appeared to have some sort of immunity.


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