Sunday, January 8, 2012

Jarawa Sojourn Continues Unabated

VOL: 35 | ISSUE: 23 | FRIDAY | 6 JANUARY 2012

Jarawa Sojourn Continues Unabated

By Staff Reporter

A group of Jarawas from Bada Baalu made a foray into revenue villages of Tusonabad Gram Panchayat on 7th Jan at about noon. These aborginal groups popularly called as Tirur Jarawas came out of their reserve once again with life, stock and barrel. A group of young Jarawas including Alamole came out at Collinpur taking the Batak Gadda route. Alamole is the same Jarawa who was brutally attacked by three local poachers of Ferrargunj some months back deep inside the Jarawa Tribal Reserve. The Jarawa men were seen moving in a separate group and women with children in separate groups. 
As the Jarawas came well prepared for a longer period of stay near the revenue villages, they were equipped with every conceivable provision for sustenance. It makes a pretty sight to see them carry on their back packs traditional as well as modern objects bound together in a most practical manner with simple twines and threads. It appears a lot for us mere mortals but the Jarawas keep it well stacked in least possible volume so that it can be carried on their backs. The most interesting provision was packing of rice grains in 1 litre completely dry pet bottles arranged in stacks of three bottles each making a cuboid of twelve bottles neatly packed in plastic cement bags tightly wound by twines and a carrying cord made out of wild creepers. They were also equipped with raw materials to make new baskets at their new abode till they are dropped back deep in their reserve. They were also equipped with several unfinished bows and arrows and basic tools meant for hunting and fishing. Their baskets were stuffed with other provisions and ornaments. An interesting new addition was a float made out of thermocol slabs the size of a table top and tightly capped empty plastic cans. On enquiry, the Jarawas revealed to the villagers that these floats are an innovation meant for floating on the surface of water in crocodile infested creeks and nallahs which fall on their route to revenue villages. Though they are great swimmers, in order to ward off crocodiles these floats come in handy.
The most disturbing part of this visit to revenue villages is carrying of utilities and commodities which are lapped up by the settlers in barter. As in our Hindi Films where the police arrive on the scene of the crime hours after the incident, so do our Jarawa protection force and the staff of AAJVS on getting the news of Jarawa entry in the revenue villages. These Jarawas were carrying Crabs, frankincense and honey in considerable quantity. The settler villagers were seen luring these aboriginals in hordes and trying to force the Jarawas to barter these commodities for tobacco and worn out clothes or pepe- Cash. If the Jarawas don't agree on above commodities for barter the offer of Pepe is made which is increased from one pepe to two pepe and so on. Each pepe can be of rupees ten denomination to maximum rupees hundred denomination. Since arrangements for their shifting at the fringes of the revenue village at Tirur where a temporary hut is present on a hill the Jarawa group continued on foot with a AAJVS staff in tow. Along the way from Collinpur to Tirur passing the villages of Temple Myo and Herbertabad the entire commodity of need for the settlers was lapped by duping these innocent Jarawas. An interesting new item finding favour in barter is deer meat as per local villagers.  At times if these deal irks them they would as well enter any shop or house and walk away with tobacco or rice in the quantity they feel right for a mere few grams of crabs or frankincense to a bottle of honey. Before reaching the entry point of revenue village of Collinpur, the Jarawas do pluck some tender coconuts and chew a few sugarcane enroute from the plantations on the fringes of their reserves. When the Administration is busy revising the Jarawa Policy and thinking on the lines of empowering the Jarawas, the process has already began on the ground with villagers imbibing fear among them about their livelihood and the failure of the Administration in fulfilling their requirements. The pep talks by the local villagers about their rights and need for settled life and food security has a catch - enticing them into barter. This recent foray is also believed to be because of the presence of Burmese poachers at Hiren Tikrey which may come out in days ahead as the local police are trying to apprehend them based on local intelligence received by them from a group of merry makers during New Year excursion to neighbouring Islands.
While the PAT regulations are being amended and made stringent, Jarawas have started to shed all inhibitions and frequenting the villages and bartering different forest produce. The nexus is now so well established that the settlers would not need to frequent forests, when Jarawas themselves will come out with the provisions required by the settlers.

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