‘Human safari’ back in Odisha?

Malkangiri: Four Russian tourists have been prevented from entering Bonda Hills, which is banned for foreigners, and two persons from the state were arrested on the charge of taking them on a "human safari".

A person claiming himself to be a tour operator allegedly took the Russians — a couple and their two children — to Khairput area in Malkangiri district from Jeypore in neighbouring Koraput district yesterday, police said.

The six were detained by the police after being informed about the foreigners taking photos of members of Bonda tribesmen at Bondaghat and Mundiguda weekly market.

The Bonda tribe is one of the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs). Taking photos or making videos of PVTGs is banned.

In February last year, the state government had banned entry of foreign tourists or researchers in areas inhabited and frequented by PVTGs without permission following media reports that tour operators took foreigners to these places offering them "human safari".

The Russians, however, told the police that they were not aware of the ban nor was there any notice board in the area to inform them about the restrictions, they sources said.

They also claimed that they had been kept in dark by the operator about the restriction and prevailing situation.

The police let them off and and also helped them return to Jeypore while the tour operator, who failed to produce any document, and the driver of their vehicle were arrested, they said.

A leading London daily reported in January last year that tour operators have been offering titillating "human safari" in Odisha which left the government red faced.