26September2018

Andaman Chronicle

The Daily Diary of the Islands

OPEN LETTER

To, 

Dr. Manmohan Singh

Hon’ble Prime Minister of India

New Delhi

Sub: History of the ‘’Local born’ s community, their identification next to aborigines of A& N Islands’’ and the administration 50 berth yacht marina on national monument, Viper Island and their emotional attachment to Viper Island.

 

Your Excellency,

           I crave leave to encroach upon your valuable time, when your honour were engaged with multifarious assignments both of national and international importance. We have many a tale of woes to narrate which is time consuming. However, presently, we confine to only two points:

1)       History of the Local Born’s community, to substantiate our emotional attachment to the historical Viper Islands.

2)       Administration “50 berth yacht marina at historical Viper Island”

1.        History of the Local Born’s community:

The word “Local Born’s” (convict descendents) is the name given by the Britishers as mentioned in the census report of 1901 (copy enclosed).

Census 1911…. “If the settlement to exist long enough, will possibly someday develop to a more or less distinct race having a language and characteristics differing in a certain degree from any one of the many races from which it has sprung.”

Census [92]…. “And in view of the approaching abandonment of  the island as a penal settlement it is the local indigenous population which will from the nucleus of the future settlement……….”

Census 1931… “A proposal that the settlement should be abolished was in fact in effect, a proposal that the Andaman should be evacuated for several reasons. This was impracticable, the chief being (1) the existence of  free population about 30,000 Local Born”s (the descendants of convicts) who should not be repatriated to any particular province in India; (2) the commercial status of the forests (3) the stratigical importance of the islands and the large money spent on, establishing the settlement.

From the above 1931 census point No.3, it is assumed that the Britishers were aiming to maintain their legacy over these islands, at the time of accession process on the plea that we 30,000 Local Borns’ who were left at the mercy of Japanese sink and swim will opt for British crown at the time of accession process, but failed. We being Indian by birth, nationalism prevailed and A&N Islands Became a part and parcel of Indian Union.

History of the Local Born’s Community

In short, the local born community loosely known as pre-42 settlers, permanent residents etc. was evolved out of the interaction of the convicts and non-convicts population in the islands; cemented by a desire to evolve a new society by a people pressed by geographical and objective environment. The islands being separated from the mainland of India by about 1200 km, the rigours of penal settlement, hostile aboriginal attacks, the deadly attack of the killer mosquitoes, the struggle of individual and groups to survive, to assimilate to create all these induced the evaluation of a community.

The Local Born community were born with a stigma of convict descent and thereby had to face all round discrimination. The discrimination was enforced by the ministerial establishment of the administration which was dominated by persons from a particular linguistics from the mainland of India. This discrimination of Local Born’s induced the British Administration to help in the formation of the “Local Born’s Association” by Col. Beadon, Chief Commissioner with the proviso that the president of the Association would be the Deputy Commissioner in the year 1921, who till the re-occupation of the Islans in 1945 was a British National. The LBA started representing against discrimination for enhancement of education and other facilities and recruitment of local people in various services of A&N Administration, and now history repeats itself that we are the victims of the same discrimination and anti-local attitude in the hands of present bureaucratic administration manned by mainlanders.

There was only one middle school till the 20’s and later it was raised to a High School. Till 1947 the A&N Islands, had only one High School. The LBA made repeated representations to the Home Department and to the Viceroys. A Significant representation was made to the delegation of the Central Legislation Assembly which visited the islands in about 1936. The Association also made representation to Lord Wavell when he visited the islands on re-occupation by the British in 1945.

By the time the Local Born community facing discrimination and unsympathetic attitude of the rulers achieved   some advancement by shear hard work, competency and reliability, the Japanese occupation of the islands brought havoc, death and destruction to the small community. It should be recalled that the bulk of the mainland population had left the islands before the occupation since they had their homes on the mainland. The convicts were repatriated to the mainland jails. The LB community who had nowhere else to go and whose homes were in the Andaman had to bear the brunt of Japanese fascist atrocities.

The colonization scheme of the Govt. of India in 1952 induced a fear among the Local Born Community of domination by the increase of population from a particular region. This fear was further accentuated by the demand raised by the late Dr. B C Roy the former Chief Minister of West Bengal. There was wide spread opposition to this demand and a memorandum was submitted to the states re-organization commission demanding union territory status for the A&N Islands. This was the beginning of political awareness in the islands. A massive mass meeting was held when a delegation of the Bengal Legislative Assembly visited the Islands in the middle of 1950’s

Local Born Community- Distinctiveness

The Local Born Community has all the elements which go in the making of a distinct entity. The community was evolved in the soil of A&N Islands as a result of a historical evolutionary process. The Local Born Community speaks a common language, which is Hindustani. Hindi is their mother tongue. They are a distinct cultural group which was evolved out of interaction of many communities. Since the first large batch of the convict population where the 1857 so called mutineers drawn from the western part of UP, the distinct group left the impress on the language, culture and way of life of a evolving community.

The Local Born Community has territory, a common language, common cultural forms and religious rights, common destiny and psychological makeup. Thus, the Local Born Community has to be demarcated for its identity distinctiveness from the various streams of mainland population, whether settlers or migrants. The Local Born Community should be placed next only to the aborigines of A&N Islands.

The project 50 berth yacht marina project with 30 bedded accommodation on Historical Viper Island is an attempt to belittle the sacrifices of the great heroes who gave their lives for the freedom movement and  breathed their last at Viper Island, which will be polluted if the above said project is implemented and will be the saddest day in the history of A&N Islands.

The foreword written by Shri IP Gupta, the then Lt. Governor, A&N Islands on the book written by Shri G S Pandey is the testimony to the happening at Viper Island since 1947-1997.

Quote……“Situated on the western side of Port Blair harbour, Viper Island was a penal settlement during the British regime, where revolutionaries like Maharaja Jagan Nath Pure, Gajapati Bir Kishore Singh Deoji and Wahabi Rebel Maulvi Ahmed Allah to name a few suffered unimaginable hardship and met their ends. It is also a place where Sher Ali the assassin of Lord Mayo was sent to Gallows” … unquote. Some of the dilapidates structure today is a mure witness to tell the tale of atrocities and sufferings perpetuated on the revolutionaries and rebel of the Indian Freedom Movement and the convicts. Their incarnation here was discontinued after the coming into being of Cellular Jail in 1906.

In this connection news published in the “Dweep Manthan” dated 12.06.2012 wherein Shri Bishnu Pada Ray, Hon’ble Member of Parliament has sent a letter addressed to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India demanding cancellation of the project on national monument Viper, freedom fighter/ karma bhoomi/ Tapasya bhoomi/ Balidan bhoomi (copy enclosed). At this juncture, it is pertinent to be pointed out that that the PCC )I) Committee, A&N Islands is silent over such a sensitive issue. It is the sacrifices of those revolutionaries that India gained Independence. What an irony of fate?

Sir, it may please be noted that we are not against tourism development, but of course not repeat not at the cost of our revolutionaries and our ancestors.

There are 300 and odd islands, where the administration can develop tourism say Panighat at Command Point; then why the administration is so adamant to have the yacht marina at Viper Island only. This smells something fishy.

The project cost the ex- chequer about 53 crores with subsidy to provide to the concessioners, cash support an outright grant of maximum amount equal to Rs. 7.5 crores in accordance with the provision to article 21 of the project likely to be given to a multinational foreign company: if accepted, it will definitely surface in the form of “Viper Island Scandal” in the island and a source of corruption. With these 53 crores, the Administration can overcome the most genuine grievances which the Hon’ble Lt. Governor highlight in his broadcast to the nation during Independence and Republic Day message, but nothing has been done in his 5 years of stay in these islands. What happened to Rutland Project? How much amount has been spent till now is a question has to be answered by the administration.

As such, I boldly say the entire project of adventure tourism at Viper Island to be scrapped immediately, “what is play to the Administration is death to our community”, and if implemented it will be last nail on the coffins of great revolutionaries and will be the saddest and darkest day. The history will never forgive and forget our Hon’ble Lt. Governor for his adventure International tourism, especially at the cost of our heroes and security.

Sir, while concluding, drawing attention that an alarming situation in the A&N Islands has brought about by some mafia Politician helped by their Patron and a time serving bureaucracy in mortgaging the survival and well being of the permanent residents and playing with the sentiments of the public. A very serious situation has developed, if not nip in the bud, it may be a problem for the administration to maintain peace and tranquillity in this far flung peace loving islands.

Thanking you for taking some of your honour’s most precious time with hope to have a line in reply in token of the acknowledgement, and oblige.

Yours faithfully,

John Lobo

INA Personal,

Retd. Deputy Conservator of Forest

Former President,

Local Borns’ Association & Civil Activist

Port Blair, A&N Islands