Dr. Nand Kumar Sai, Chairperson, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has written to Union Home Minister seeking re-imposition of Restricted Area Permit regime in six Islands in Andaman and Nicobar inhabited by Andamanese, Jarawas, Sentinelese, Onges and Sompens.
The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has regretted that inspite of reservations expressed by the Commission for excluding 29 inhabited islands in Andaman and Nicobar from Restricted Area Permit regime, the Ministry of Home Affairs on 17th September, 2018 have further relaxed the provisions by deleting the requirement of mandatory registration by foreigners visiting A&N Islands with FRO and added Viper Island to the list of islands already exempted by its circular dated 29th June, 2018.
The Commission is of the view that the above directives of the Ministry of Home Affairs are not in consonance with the spirit of Article 338A (9) of the Constitution of India which mandates that “Union and every State Government should consult the Commission on all major policy matters affecting Scheduled Tribes.”
In the recent times, the Commission was alarmed by a news report on 22.11.2018 regarding alleged killing of an US National in the North Sentinel Island in Andaman. The Commission held a meeting with Additional Secretary (UT) on 28th November, 2018 to discuss the above issue at New Delhi.
Further, the Full Commission visited Andaman Islands from 4th to 6th December, 2018 and held discussions with Chief Secretary, Director General of Police, Director of Anthropological Survey of India, IG Coast Guards and other local stake holders such as Fishermen’s Associations, Andaman Chamber of Commerce and Industries, NGOs and Civil Society members at Port Blair.
The Commission also met the Lieutenant Governor at Raj Niwas and discussed the issues. On 5th December, 2018, the Commission had occasion to visit the Jarawa region in South Andaman and interacted with Jarawas with assistance from volunteers from Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti (AAJVS) and interacted with police personnel deployed at Jirkatang check gate.
The Commission, after careful consideration, recommends the following steps to be taken by the Government of India and Andaman Administration for protection of five Particularly Vulnerable Tribes (PVTGs) living in Andaman and Nicobar Islands on urgent basis:
(i) The names of Strait Island (Andamanese), Middle and South Andaman (Jarawas), North Sentinal Island (Sentinelese), Little Andaman (Onges) and Great Nicobar (Shompens) inhabited by PVTGs should be removed from the list of 29 islands mentioned in Annexure to the Circular No.506 dated 29th June, 2018 of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
(ii) Large size posters/hoardings should be put up at the airport, seaport and all other important places in Andaman and Nicobar Islands decrying tourism and/or visit of any kind by the people to the above six islands inhabited by the PVTGs.
(iii) Surveillance and patrolling including the checking of vessels/vehicles found abutting the above six Islands should be strengthened by UT Police and Coast Guards. Daily Incident Report (DIR) on their patrolling activities should be webhosted in the official website of Andaman Administration and other related public portals.
(iv) Air space above the North Sentinel Island should be declared as “NO FLY ZONE” for any type of civil aircraft.
(v) A comprehensive outreach programme should be launched by Andaman and Nicobar Administration to sensitize fishermen, tourist guides, tour operators, hotel industry and other stake holders on the “EYES ON” and “HANDS OFF” policy for Sentinelese so that they can be eyes and ears of the Administration.>