Police involvement in ‘human safaris’ exposed in the Andaman Islands

January 9, 2012

Tourist films Jarawa on the Andaman Trunk Road © Survival

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British newspaper The Observer has revealed evidence of police involvement in ‘human safaris’ in India’s Andaman Islands.

The scandal, first exposed by Survival in 2010, involves tourists using an illegal road to enter the reserve of the Jarawa tribe. Tour companies and cab drivers ‘attract’ the Jarawa with biscuits and sweets.

The Observer has obtained a video showing a group of Jarawa women being ordered to dance for tourists by a policeman, who had reportedly accepted a £200 bribe to take them into the reserve.

One tourist has previously described a similar trip: ‘The journey through tribal reserve was like a safari ride as we were going amidst dense tropical rainforest and looking for wild animals, Jarawa tribals to be specific’.

In recent weeks the Islands’ administration has again ruled out closing the road, known as the Andaman Trunk Road revealed for the first time that it plans to open an alternative route by sea to bypass most of the Jarawa reserve.

Tourists arriving at the Andaman Islands take flyers about the trunk road boycott © SEARCH/Survival

Survival has called for tourists to boycott the road, which the Supreme Court ordered closed in 2002. Working with a local organization, SEARCH, Survival has distributed leaflets to tourists arriving at the Islands’ airport warning of the dangers of using the road.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This story reeks of colonialism and the disgusting and degrading ‘human zoos’ of the past. Quite clearly, some people’s attitudes towards tribal peoples haven’t moved on a jot. The Jarawa are not circus ponies bound to dance at anyone’s bidding.’