Monday, March 5, 2012

IGP's Rendezvous with Jarawas, and Army Personnel: How Absolute Power Corrupts


IGP's Rendezvous with Jarawas, and Army Personnel:
How Absolute Power Corrupts

By Zubair Ahmed

The second-in-command in Andaman Police, IGP Sanjay Baniwal has been relieved from his duties after he was charged with facilitating a rendezvous with Jarawas for his guests at Tirur sector. However, the prompt action by police has not gone well as no other charges have been framed against the senior officer.
In the first Jarawa video case, the police has already identified that army personnel were involved and it has been already communicated to the Command, but there is no action from their part.
"In both instances, it's the case of fence eating the grass," commented a senior police official.  IGP Sanjay Baniwal, who had been entrusted the job of protection of Jarawas by keeping a tab on the vehicular movement on Andaman Trunk Road after the huge national and international uproar about exploitation of Jarawas came to light, took the liberty to take his personal guests to Tirur to show Jarawa tribe and take photographs on 28 Feb 2012.
The Jarawa Protection Police Outpost in Tirur had been informed by the officer to make the Jarawas available for his guests. Jarawas, who were staying at the Chadda opposite to the JPP were proceeding towards Temple Myo for fishing. The Jarawas were made to wait for about an hour even after the AAJVS objected to the JPP staff's move.
It is also learnt from sources that the group which visited the Jarawas were lodged in a Type V police quarter at Link Road for last three months. The quarter, declared a guest house, was rented to the guests for a pittance of Rs 4/-. The IGP had facilitated their stay and their meeting with the Jarawas.
IGP Sanjay Baniwal was immediately relieved from his duties after the daily newspaper Andaman Chronicle published the news. But, there is still resentment as the law has not taken the due course in this case. Police had taken prompt action and suspended two of its ground staff for videographing Jarawas. "When a constable is placed under suspension for a crime not heinous as the IGP did, why he was not suspended or dismissed?" asks a police constable. There is huge bitterness that the same law for the same crime is applied differently.
In another issue, although police department acted swiftly and suspended the constables responsible for shooting the second dance video, there has been a implied silence on the side of Andaman Nicobar Command (ANC). Speaking to LOA, a senior police officer said that Police had sent three letters to the Command to identify the culprits. "There is no cooperation from the Command," he said. When contacted, PRO, Command informed that he is unaware of any such communication. Police had identified the vehicles and had also communicated the date of the incident, 25 September 2008. Highly placed sources in the Police Dept told LOA that the Jarawas too have identified the trucks as well as the people behind the video.
The police force, which was appreciated for its stern action in many high profile cases failed to act strongly in this instance, where an IPS officer was involved.
The C-in-C had also said in a press meet on the sidelines of Milan 2012 that the defence forces are a disciplined force and will respect the local laws.
However, the imbalanced application of law in both cases has drawn flak from various quarters.

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