Are the poachers exploiting the vulnerable Jarawas taking cover of
the law and roaming free after blatant violation of the PAT Regulations in
By Zubair Ahmed
The latest incident of exploitation of Jarawa girls by two groups
of local poachers from Tirur did not come as a shock, as such repulsive acts by
poachers have become a regular occurrence making mockery of the system.
The guts shown by the poachers to lure unmarried Jarawa girls to
accompany them on hunting expeditions further exposes the intricate
relationship the poachers have forged with the vulnerable tribe, leaving no
scope for any kind of 'stringent' action as desired by the activists or the
In this instant case, on the basis of complaint by Dr Pronob Kr.
Sircar, Tribal Welfare Officer, AAJVS Tirur two cases have been registered,
under section 365 IPC, r.w.s 7/8 (2) (5) (6) of A&N Island (PAT)
Regulation 1956 and r.w.s 3(1) (XII) of SC/ST (POA) Act 1989.
Although, the poachers have been charged under section 365 IPC for
kidnapping or abducting Jarawa girls, it would be a Herculean task for the
prosecution to defend the charges. At least, its heartening that police acted
quickly without budging to any external pressure and registered cases.
But, the harmful influence that the poachers have on the Jarawas
would become an impediment in taking the case to a logical conclusion. The
Jarawas in most cases pertaining to Tirur sector are hands in glove with the
poachers and are unlikely to testify against them. Even though, blaming the
past is not going to undo the damage, the situation has worsened to such an
extent that its high time there is a paradigmatic change in the approach
towards Jarawas especially in Tirur. In fact, everyone accepts the
vulnerability of the Jarawa tribe and their susceptibility to the negative
affects of such interactions. But, its a blind alley for the police and
prosecution to nail the criminals.
The Jarawa girls, who accompanied the poachers, are exploited in
every sense. Similarly, sexual exploitation under the influence of liquor
cannot be ruled out. However, its an improbability that the girls will testify
against them. And, even if its consensual, the legal constraints needs
re-examination. Whether the Jarawa girls were minor or adult should not be the
subject of debate. If truth be told, their naivety is exploited to the hilt.
Whether they testify or not, the issue needs to be dealt in a way that poachers
do not use the protection of loopholes in the legal system to come out.
Last month one Ashush Samaddar was arrested by Police on a tip off
about a group of Jarawas being sheltered by him and for serving them liquor in
exchange of 20 kg of venison. Jarawa youth Kunu along with two members
were found at the poacher's residence. He was later released on bail as it was
the Jarawas who visited the poacher's house and not vice versa. A senior police
officer had expressed their helplessness as how to book someone in such cases.
In fact, in the last one decade, a strong illicit relationship had
already been forged between the Jarawas and the poachers while the concerned
authorities looked the other way, and now, when there is a realization with a
major reshuffle in the AAJVS, they are finding it difficult to arrest the tide.
But, there are cases like the one in which a local poacher Nitai
Mondal, resident of Guptapara had reached Chotagoja Jarawa Camp, a Jarawa
Reserve on the West Coast on 3rd November with ration articles - rice,
vegetable oil, sugar and tea and camped along with a group of Jarawas and the
next day took two Jarawas - Dawa and Lekhte to Bambu Nallah, where other
Jarawas were camping. He stayed with them for a day and later took 5 Jarawas -
Anijamu (43), Illy (25), Anjale (27), Achehane(25), and Tahe (22) to TarmugliIsland. With such blatant violation of
the regulations in force, how did Nitai Mondal manage a bail is very much
If such instances keep occurring, where under political influence,
cases are weakened by the authorities, conscientious ground staff who wants a
meaningful change, will be demoralized and disheartened.
According to an expert, "these local poachers and sexual
offenders are the worst influence that have been happening to the Jarawa for
the past decade and more- often silently, with a lot of blame being
conveniently directed to 'foreign poachers' while these fellows get away with
the most dirty, exploitative acts - to the Jarawa, their wildlife and forests (timber)."
The only silver lining in the
otherwise dark horizon is the change in the attitude of a section of Jarawas,
who have become conscious about the exploitation meted to them by the poachers.
It was a group of young Jarawas, who had sounded caution about the missing
girls. The way the poachers were manhandled by Jarawas sends a clear signal
what is in store if the situation worsens further. Nobody can rule out the
possibility of a section of Jarawas getting back to their old ways, if the
settlers especially the poachers living on the fringes of the Reserve doesn't
take the cue.