The second most senior policeman on the Andamans has been caught organizing a VIP ‘human safari’ despite being tasked with the job of protecting the Jarawa tribe.
Sanjay Baniwal, the Andaman’s Inspector General of Police, used his seniority to guarantee an exclusive trip into the Jarawa Reserve with his relatives and a Hindu priest.
He was able to meet the tribe at a pre-arranged location after the Jarawa Protection Police made 18 members of the tribe wait for over an hour until he arrived.
The Jarawa had been on their way to Temple Myo creek to catch fish when they were interrupted and made to participate in the ‘human safari’ for the senior officer.
Ironically, Baniwal was given the specific role of monitoring all activity on the Andaman Trunk Road shortly after the ‘human safari’ scandal broke out.
An undercover investigation by UK newspaper The Observer prompted global outrage after it revealed tour operators were illegally using the road to exploit the Jarawa.
Baniwal has been transferred to Delhi, but sources say no further inquires are due.
An official within the Andaman’s administration told Survival, ‘We condemn this deplorable act. For such a senior official to be kicked out so unceremoniously sends a clear message to everyone.’
However, local Andaman organization Search, which works to protect the interests of the Jarawa, says this action does not go far enough.
Denis Giles said to Survival, ‘For the second most senior police officer to be able to organize such a tour and to then be simply reassigned to Delhi after being found out, is an outrage. How can any justice be expected for the Jarawa if this is the response?’
Survival Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This is the ultimate irony. How can the Andamans be taking ‘human safaris’ seriously when the very people in charge of safeguarding the Jarawa’s future are abusing their position? Until there is a widespread change of attitudes towards tribal people in India, where they are still often viewed as ‘primitive’ and ‘backward’, tribes such as the Jarawa will never receive the respect they deserve. The Jarawa’s land and resources must be protected so they are safe from exploitation. It is only when they are safe in their lands that they can truly choose, and control, how they live their lives and decide their futures.’