Andaman dance scandal: Police registers case
Port Blair: A day after the Indian government asked the Andaman and Nicobar administration to explain how half naked Jarawa tribal women were forced to dance for tourists, police here on Thursday registered a case against unknown people for shooting and uploading videos.
The case was registered under the Indian Penal Code, Information and Technology Act, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes and Protection of Aboriginal Tribes, official sources said here today.
Andaman and Nicobar Police have formed a special team led by a Deputy Superintendent of Police which will seek help of cyber cell of central agencies in cracking the computer from where it has been hosted.
The case has been registered under section 292 of Indian Penal Code (showing obscene material), section 67 of IT act (Publishing of information which is obscene in electronic form), section 3 (2) of Schedule Caste and Scheduled Tribes
(forces a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to drink or eat any inedible or obnoxious substance).
The case has also been registered under section 7 (entering buffer zone for commercial activities) and section 8 (promoting tourism activities through any advertisement about Jarawa tribes) of Protection of Aboriginal Tribes.
The development comes after a leading British newspaper released an amateur video footage shot in the Andaman Islands which shows tribal women, naked waist up, dancing for tourists.
The tribe in question is the Jarawa tribe, who have inhabited the Andaman Islands for thousands of years.
The newspaper reported that the women are forced to dance, mostly naked, for tourists’ amusement by local police who are paid a bribe by the visitors. And the inflow of tourists has only gone up in the recent past thanks to tour companies that run safaris through jungles on the islands every day.
The footage evoked strong reactions from women`s rights activists who demanded strong action against those who violated the rules.
In the video shot by a tourist, a police officer not seen in the video is heard telling the Jarawa women to dance.
"Dance," he is heard telling. "Dance for me."
The officer was reportedly paid a 200 pound bribe by wealthy tourists to get the women dance. "I gave you food," he is heard telling the women. The Jarawa is a reclusive tribe with whom the contact has been established only recently. It is the tribe’s first effort to reach out to the outside world. And what a shame this effort has turned out to be.
The Andaman officials, however, downplayed the video saying that it seemed to have been shot years ago. "The footage is at least four or five years old," Chief Secretary Shakti Sinha said in a television interview.
He said it was difficult to identify the people who had asked tribals to dance, though "there is no doubt the people in question have broken the law".
As per official data, there are 403 members in the Jarawa tribe who live in a jungle reserve on South Andaman. While being trusting and innocent, they are vulnerable and that is what is leading to their exploitation.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration, which reports to the Union Home Ministry, termed the footage as "highly irresponsible" and said it was not clear in which year the video clip was recorded.
In its preliminary report, the administration said it will initiate prosecution against the videographer involved in the coverage for a British newspaper for "inciting" the tribals to dance in front of tourists.
Sources in the home ministry said Home Minister P Chidambaram will take up the issue with the local administration during his pre-scheduled visit to the union territory Jan 21.
The Home Ministry may take punitive action against people responsible for the alleged act if the reports are found to be genuine, an official said.
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