Port Blair: Police have registered a case against unknown persons in connection with the shooting and uploading of a video showing semi-naked Jarawa tribal women dancing in front of tourists.

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The case was registered under the Indian Penal Code, Information and Technology Act, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes and Protection of Aboriginal Tribes, official sources said here on Thursday.

Andaman and Nicobar Police have formed a special team led by a Deputy Superintendent of Police which will seek help of cyber cell of central agencies in cracking the computer from where it has been hosted.

The case has been registered under section 292 of Indian Penal Code (showing obscene material), section 67 of IT act (Publishing of information which is obscene in electronic form), section 3 (2) of Schedule Caste and Scheduled Tribes (forces a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to drink or eat any inedible or obnoxious substance).

The case has also been registered under section 7 (entering buffer zone for commercial activities) and section 8 (promoting tourism activities through any advertisement about Jarawa tribes) of Protection of Aboriginal Tribes.

The issue had sparked controversy when London-based newspaper "Observor" reported the alleged incident and also uploaded a video.

People arrested for intruding into Jarawa areas

In separate incidents, 15 people have been arrested under provisions of the Protection of Aboriginal Tribes (PAT) Regulation, 1956 for intruding into Jarawa areas in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

While six persons, all residents of Junglighat, were arrested from a fishing trawler near Bamboonallah, three mechanised fishing boats were intercepted at Hiren Tikery, Badabaalu and Havabill island and nine persons arrested, the police said on Thursday.

The fishing trawler and the boats were also seized.

The operation was conducted by Ograbraj police station under the supervision of deputy superintendent of police Vinit Kumar since January 10, the police said.

During the intensive search of the long coast line area from Herbertabad to Hiren Tikri covering Jhaukona, Bada Balu, Lamba Balu, Bamboo Nallah and Hawa Bill Island, a commercial fishing trawler was sighted along the shore near Bamboo Nallah. After a long chase, the trawler was intercepted and the six persons were arrested.

During further search, three mechanized fishing boats and one non-mechanized oar boat were intercepted at three places and nine persons arrested.

Meanwhile, the general public and fishermen have been cautioned not to venture into the Jarawa Reserve Forest Area which stretches up to 5 km on sea from the High Tide Line of Western Coast of Middle Andaman Area as it is a punishable offence under PAT Regulation.

According to reports, there are just 403 surviving members of the Jarawa tribe who live in reserve forests on South Andamans.

Earlier, the Indian government on Wednesday asked the Andaman and Nicobar administration to explain how half naked tribal women were forced to dance for tourists.

Terming the incident ‘obnoxious and disgusting’, Tribal Affairs Minister KP Singh Deo said, 'It is disgraceful if something like this is happening. It ... cannot be pardoned. It deserves exemplary punishment,' he said.

Law and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said strict action should be taken against those responsible for forcing the tribal women to dance.

An agency has posted on its website footage filmed by a tourist showing half-naked Jarawa women being told to dance for tourists by an off-camera police officer. 

The website said the Jarawa tribe has lived in peace in the Andaman Islands for thousands of years but tour companies are now running safaris through their jungle. Wealthy tourists pay police to make the women - usually naked - dance for their amusement.

Episode highly irresponsible: Andaman government

Responding to the questions of the Indian government, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration also termed the episode as ‘highly irresponsible.’

While the administration expressed that it was not clear in which year the video clip was recorded, it said it was amply clear that the person alleged to have asked the women to do so was not a policeman.

"It is clarified that at the time this video was recorded, most of the Jarawas did not wear clothes. Even today those in the jungle are not clothed. It is also obvious that it is videographer (who is breaking the law of the land) and who is inciting them to dance," a statement released by the state police said.

It is amply evident that the person alleged to be a policeman is not a policeman as has been widely and erroneously reported, the statement added.

A London-based daily, which had claimed in its report that a policeman had taken bribe to make the tribals, especially women, dance naked, has also been asked to apologise to the local police and to "name the videographer so that legal action could be initiated against him for recording and releasing the video thereby lowering the dignity of the members of Jarawa tribe."

Commenting on the role of NGOs SEARCH and Survival International, the police expressed its surprise over the work being undertaken by these groups in the name of protecting the primitive tribes of the world.

The police alleged that the director and employees of the local NGO have taken up on themselves to draw fat salaries and benefits from funds donated for primitive tribes.

(JPN/ Agencies)