Andaman tribals shown in poor light

Port Blair/New Delhi: A controversy erupted today over a video footage showing semi-naked Jarawa tribal women in Andaman and Nicobar Islands allegedly being ordered to dance before tourists prompting the Centre to seek a report from the Union Territory administration. In its preliminary report, the administration said it will initiate prosecution against the video grapher involved in the coverage for a British newspaper for "inciting" the tribals to dance in front of tourists.

The footage that surfaced apparently to bring to fore the exploitation of Jarawa tribals, who were allegedly forced to dance before tourists in return for food, was condemned as "obnoxious and disgusting" by Union Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo. According to reports, there are just 403 surviving members of the Jarawa tribe who live in reserve forests on south Andaman.

The Home Ministry directed the local administration to find out when the video was photographed, how the primitive tribals living in seclusion came in contact with outsiders and to find out the people responsible for their exploitation. The Home Ministry may take punitive action against people responsible for the alleged act and if the reports are found to be genuine, an official said.

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. The Andaman police downplayed the video, calling it an `old one` and blamed the British journalist who took the footage for forcing the Jarawas to dance for the tourists.

Andaman DGP SB Deol claimed the video that has been released is perhaps a 10-year-old video taken in 2002. He also said that whoever shot the video violated the rules and will have to face action. "It is obvious that it is the video grapher who is breaking the law of the land and who is inciting the tribals to dance," Deol said.