NEW DELHI: In the backdrop of fresh video of exploitation of Jarawa tribes in the Andamans, the Union government on Monday said it has decided to keep a close watch on tour operators many of whom are believed to be involved in such malpractices so that action can be taken against the guilty.
Holding that the tour operators are also equally responsible for exploitation of Jarawa tribes, Tribal Affairs Minister, Mr V Kishore Chandra Deo on Monday said those involved in the crime would be punished for their role in the “inhuman” activity in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The Minister said he would speak to Tourism Minister, Mr Subodh Kant Sahay “to rein in” the tour operators there.
The government’s decision to take action against the tour operators came after a fresh video surfaced showing alleged “human safaris” involving Jarawas.
The tribals were allegedly made to dance in return for food by foreign tourists and the tour operators in the footage which also showed a cop and an armyman watching the show.
“I will be talking to my colleague in tourism ministry. Tour operators are also culprits in the crime. That is quite an unethical practice. Tourism is banned in the area. If any tour operator is found behind the crime, he would also be booked,” Mr Deo told reporters here.
The Minister, who has already taken up the matter with the administration of Andamans, said “the matter is already under inquiry” and said action would be taken against the guilty “whether the tape is old or new”.
Meanwhile, expressing concern over the video footage showing alleged involvement of cops in “human safaris” involving Jarawas, the Scheduled Tribes Commission on Monday asked Andaman and Nicobar administration to take action against those involved and submit a report at the earliest.
Issuing a notice to the Union Territory administration, the NCST has sought a reply on action taken by it to protect the members of the primitive tribe from exploitation as directed by the Calcutta High Court and act against the culprits shown in the footage where tribals were made to dance for food.
“There is a High Court order to protect Jarawas from exploitation. We have sought a reply from the administration there on steps taken to enforce that order. We have also asked them to identify the culprits shown in the footage and take necessary action against them,” NCST chairman, Mr Rameshwar Oraon told PTI here.
He said the Calcutta High Court, which has jurisdiction over the island territory, had given an order directing the administration to take steps to protect Jarawas from encroachment and contact.
The High Court order came after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed citing the negative impact of Andaman Trunk Road (ATR), which passes through the forest reserve inhabited by Jarawas.