24April2019

Andaman Chronicle

The Daily Diary of the Islands

Opinion

Follow the Message, not the Messengers!

Zubair Ahmed

We at Andaman Chronicle were first labeled communal. Next came the tag of anti-nationals supported by external forces. Then we were called ISI agents. In Andamans, we are not on holiday like the bunch of bureaucrats and the Administrator, and we don't treat this place as a stepping stone or milestone. Both of us belong to Pre-42 community and I am proud to be a descendant of a freedom fighter. Its unfortunate that these disgruntled bunch even doesn't know how to take criticism! They have turned vindictive now.

The issue started with questions raised on SP, ACU Aslam Khan's transfer. This irked many. Followed by that we exposed the DO letter written by the Administrator to the Ministry of Home Affairs on the issue of employment for local candidates, which in contrary to what they claimed was not a very strong representation. The Administration after facing a series of agitations and representations by various organizations have decided to revisit the case and make a fresh representation based on suggestions received from all stakeholders. Kudos to Admn for taking the step!

In fact we were very soft in our article. But, as the issue is getting murkier, we need to reveal another facet of the issue, we had not mentioned in the article. The so-called DO letter which the LG had sent was just a copy of a draft letter prepared by the Secretariat babus for Former LG Bhopinder Singh in Nov 2012 with some minor changes here and there.

Instead of taking the message, they are now behind the messengers. And they tried their best to find how the letter leaked from Secretariat. And they failed.

Next, the Administrator handed over the case to Anti-Corruption Unit to investigate how the letter leaked. (Its like APWD JE performing surgery in GB Pant Hospital). The officials in ACU started contacting Andaman Chronicle to find out the whereabouts. They are also checking the call details of both of us to find out the source of the leak. Instead of wasting their energy on something insignificant, they should be busy laying traps to check corruption in resonance with the Administrator's vision of zero-tolerance towards corruption. Whatever pressure tactics they apply, we are not going to reveal our sources. To hell with their tantrums.

 

As 'responsible' media, we need to move on. There is a line-up of stories planned for next week. Till then, enjoy your weekend and a Happy Republic Day to all readers!

  • Written by Denis Giles
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Exploitation of Jarawa Girls

Is the Law Helpless?

Are the poachers exploiting the vulnerable Jarawas taking cover of the law and roaming free after blatant violation of the PAT Regulations in force?

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 Administrator.

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 Tarmugli Island. With such blatant violation of the regulations in force, how did Nitai Mondal manage a bail is very much intriguing.

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.

  • Written by Denis Giles
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When Seeking a Solution

By Zubair Ahmed

On the issue of employment to the Islanders, the initial response of the Administration was kind of frustration and displeasure, as nothing had been happening on this front for a long time. The Lieutenant Governor came out lashing on his predecessors as well as the Member of Parliament, and the PRIs and even expressed his anguish in a tweet saying that since 2007, when the arrangement was stopped, there was no action from anywhere. He felt that he took a pro-active step to unearth the buried posts and provide employment opportunities. There is no denial on the part that he felt it necessary that the acute despair and despondency amongst the Islanders can be only addressed by providing the educated youth employment opportunities.

The Lieutenant Governor's letter to the Home Minister on the issue of preferential treatment to Islanders in employment is based more on the angst erupting in the society and seeking a remedy from Ministry of Home Affairs.

However, it becomes pertinent to look beyond the emotional outburst and have  a pragmatic approach to the issue. When he was seen expressing at various forums that 'a viable solution needs to be explored safeguarding the interests of the Islanders within legal and administrative framework', the communication sent to the Ministry fails to address the issue through proper justifications.

Apart from the reasons like the remoteness of the geographically scattered territory, forest cover, poor connectivity, stringent forest laws and lack of educational institutions for higher education, the reasons why the Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Home Affairs earlier rejected the proposal and the changed scenario should have been communicated.

Instead of putting the onus on the Ministry of Home Affairs to find a solution, some homework would have gone a long way suggesting a way out from the precarious situation. The Daman and Diu arrangement has its own lacunae, which can again attract litigation.

Soon after the Supreme Court order in 1991, the arrangement of local candidates continued till 2005, when finally the local certificate was declared invalid for employment. There had been an attempt to promulgate the “Public Employment (Requirement as to Residence) Regulation” by the President of India under Article 240 of constitution and a draft regulation was even sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs vide letter No.18-134/83-Legal dated 25.9.1988.

This was followed by several letters by Lt. Governor Ishwari Prasad Gupta dated 16.6.2000 and Lt Governor N. N. Jha dated 19.12.2001 and 11.9.2002.

Soon before the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with the Ministry of Law and Justice communicated on 22 February 2007, that the promulgation of proposed "The Andaman & Nicobar Islands Public Employment Regulation", is neither justified administratively nor sustainable from constitutional or legal angles, it had sent more than five reminders on 7 Feb 2006, 11 August 2006, October 2006, November 2006 and on 22 January 2007 asking the ANI Administration for detailed comments with justification for such a Regulation for which there was no response.

In addition, the Ministry of Home Affairs in February 2006 had sought the break-up figures of employment from 2001 to 2005 to which the ANI Admn submitted that out of 1318 appointments, only seven non-Islander candidates had applied, out of which two were employed. As the Admn was following the OM of 1984 issued by MHA, where only local candidates could apply, it had helped in preventing the non-Islanders from applying. The Ministry felt that the number of persons applying from outside is negligible based on the figures submitted and the proposal was rejected.

Since 2005, the situation has drastically changed. The mode of communication has improved and most of the posts are advertised online. Unfortunately, the letter sent by the Lieutenant Governor does not mention figures about the status of non-Islanders applying for jobs since 2006. It is learnt from reliable sources that about 161 non-Islanders have already applied for the 422 posts advertised for teachers recruitment, which is more than 40%. The facts and figures, which is not in the public domain, could have given enough teeth to the letter justifying the demand for preferential treatment for the Islanders.

The Administration though, has precisely sensed the mood of the Islanders, which reflects in the letter, a sincere exercise with proper justifications based on facts and figures could have been appreciable.

 

It is also significant that the Administration could have invited suggestions from the civil society and looked outside too for viable solutions.  Instead of viewing representations from the civil society and organisations as letters of demand or dissent, it could have paved way for a democratic approach.

  • Written by Denis Giles
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