A secret recording of a tour operator in the Andaman Islands has triggered renewed controversy over the notorious “human safaris”. Survival International said yesterday (12 January) that the tape shows that the “safaris” are still happening, and also provides new evidence of police collusion. (Police involved in Andaman Islands 'Human Safaris' http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16015)
The tour operator was recorded telling an undercover journalist to provide 10-15,000 rupees (£120-180). The tape was recorded in December by journalist Gethin Chamberlain.
Asked how much a trip to see the Jarawa tribe would cost, the Port Blair-based tour operator says, “For the trip, uh, vehicle and… all like 25 to 30,000 like that. Because the policeman take 10 to 15 like that. And vehicle and some gift to the tribals also… like fruits, biscuits…”
Stung by the international outrage that has greeted these disclosures, some in the islands’ administration have claimed that the video was shot ten years ago, before precautions were put in place. But Survival International say that the recording “provides concrete proof that 'human safaris' are still occurring”.
The organisation first revealed the existence of the “human safaris” in 2010.
In response to the latest revelations, one of the leading experts on the Andaman Island tribes, Professor Anvita Abbi of Jawaharlal Nehru University, has said, “This happened in the knowledge of the authorities. How can the administration claim they have no knowledge of this?”
Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry, agreed. He said that the “safaris” were still taking place “because of the Andaman Trunk Road through the Jarawa reserve”.
He explained, “Ten years after the Indian Supreme Court ordered the road to be closed, it's shocking that the Andaman Administration is defying this order by keeping it open. The government could end human safaris today – by closing the road.”