Port Blair: In a shocker from Andaman, a video showing women from the protected Jarawa tribe being made to dance for food and for tourists has exposed the dark side of the tourism. While the Andaman administration is downplaying this exploitation of the tribe that number just about 400 saying the video is an old one, tour operators have confirmed that human safaris do happen although they refused to say it on camera.
"Such things do happen. The administration is the witness," said one tour operator.
The Home Ministry has also confirmed that the video is quite recent and not a decade old as the local administration has claimed.
Home Minister P Chidambaram had claimed that the footage is 2-3 years old.
However, the local administration still seems to be in the denial mode. Shakti Sinha, Chief Secretary, Andamans, said, "It does not happen on a regular basis absolutely. Convoys are guarded. We have brought down the number of convoys from 8-a-day to 4-a-day to better regulate them.
"We have welfare people also interacting with the tribals, but I don't think that anyone can say that this titillation or this sex traffic or any kind of 'human safari' is happening at all.
"But we would definitely like to know, who has taken this video, for what purpose, and the fact that such videos can be used for titillation and for commercial exploitation kind of a thing, which is not something we like at all.
"In fact we have zero tolerance to it and we would definitely like to get to the bottom of it."
Activists have pointed out that the government has still not closed the Andaman Trunk Road despite the 2002 Supreme Court orders. This road cuts through the sensitive Jarava area putting them at risk of contracting diseases from contact with tourists.
While uncertainties loom over the footage, the police and other officials are denying it. However, locals argue that such tourism malpractices still continue. The truth still remains to be unearthed.