Army convoy had stopped at Chowdhary Gumai on ATR and made the naked women dance
The Jarawa dance video, which created a hue and cry in the international and national media and forced the Government of India and Andaman and Nicobar Administration to order a probe, was actually shot by a group of army personnel on the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) connecting Port Blair with Diglipur.
In an independent investigation by The Light of Andamans (LOA), it has come to light that police and ground staff of Andaman Aadim Janjathi Vikas Samithi (AAJVS) - an autonomous body that looks after welfare of the Jarawa tribe – had nothing to do with the video.
The Jarawa dance video was shot by army personnel, according to the women shown in the video (Photos courtesy: LOA)
Contrary to the statements released to the media by the Administration, the video was shot three years back on 6th November 2008, in which two vehicles - a truck and a gypsy belonging to the army were involved.
In a release, the Andaman DGP S B Deol, had said that the video was 10 years old and there were no cop in the video. He had also pointed out that a man in a camouflaged uniform was seen in the video.
However, he did not mention any role of defence personnel. LOA has identified the Jarawa women and girls featured in the video, which was shot at a place about 8 kms from Jirkatang, known as Chowdhary Gumai on the ATR.
There were six Jarawa women including a pregnant lady, who were shown fully naked in the video. LOA has identified five of them – Thadul (16) daughter of Thadang, Ecnchobecha (14) d/o Thadang, Cheddatokula (35) wife of Whaydom, Aninja (13) d/o and Whaydom Enepowaiele (21) w/o Mahe.
Enepowaiele was 7-8 months pregnant when the video was shot. She gave birth to a baby girl Wane on 6 February 2009.
Traffic on the ATR is regulated and vehicles were allowed only in convoys at eight different times in a day, when the video was shot. Two-wheelers are not allowed on the stretch. Each convoy is accompanied by police escort vehicles. The ATR passes through a 50 km Jarawa Reserve area, where the video has been shot.
According to information available with LOA, on the day the video was shot a military truck had crossed the check post at Middle Strait with special permission after the last convoy had left the point.
Chowdhary Gumai, where the video was shot
Enepowaiele, the pregnant woman in the video, who is 24 years now has confirmed to a reliable source about the incident and the involvement of army personnel in it.
However, this does not give a clean chit to the police force present at Middle Strait who allowed the military truck to pass after the last convoy had departed from their check post.
The thumb rule is not to allow anybody except AAJVS, Police and Forest personnel dealing with the protection and welfare of Jarawas of specific territorial jurisdiction.
This raises a serious question on how army personnel, who were returning from Baratang could stop inside the Reserve and shoot the video exploiting the vulnerability of a tribe who are at crossroads, unaware of the dangers it poses to their life and culture.
The story about the video published by The Guardian/Observer, London was later picked by the national media and highlighted the plight of the Jarawas.
Interactions such as these have given rise to the demand that the ATR be shut down so that the Jarawa tribe may live in peace
Soon after the expose by news channels, Shakti Sinha, Chief Secretary, Andaman and Nicobar Island Administration had reacted to the episode saying that over the past decade, the population of the Jarawas has increased for the first time since they first came into contact with the outside world 150 years ago. He also said that the Tribal Reserve area has been increased from 847 sq kms to 1028 sq kms.
Meanwhile, the recent video has reopened the discussion on whether the ATR is a threat to the Jarawas and whether it should be shut down in the interest of the tribals.
By special arrangement with The Light of Andamans (Zubair Ahmed is Editor of LOA)
Andaman police seek clarification from journo in Jarawa dance video case