Human safaris: Andaman officials alerted 2 yrs ago, claims NGO

Officials in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were alerted to the existence of 'human safaris' two years ago by the London-based charity organisation, Survivor International (SI), which had helped expose the practice in the past.

The practice of getting members of the Jarawa tribe in the islands to dance before tourists has been taken up by the Indian government after the Observer and The Guardian newspapers last week published a report and a video on its prevalence.

SI today said that on January 11 2010, it wrote to the Lieutenant Governor of the Islands, warning him that "a number of tour operators are promoting tours which include sightings of, or encounters with, the Jarawa tribe".

"Survival received no response to the letter or subsequent appeals, even after launching a boycott of the Andaman Trunk Road with local organization Search", SI said in a press release.

It also released copies of the two letters to the Lieutenant Governor.
SI said in July 2011, it wrote again as a matter of "great urgency", in response to "severe international concern about the Jarawa's predicament and the threat that tourists pose", but still the problem continued.

SI said that four months ago a complaint was also lodged by social worker Arvind Rai Sharma, after he saw a tour company's promotional video of Jarawa women and children being "humiliated in front of tourists".

Survival's Director Stephen Corry said: "It's extraordinary that the local government appears only now to realize the extent of these 'human safaris'.

"Survival first wrote to the administration in 2010 to highlight the issue".
He added: "If they're serious about finally tackling this problem, they need to close the Andaman Trunk Road, ten years after the Supreme Court told them to. It's the only real solution".

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