Siddharth Mohan Nair| The News Minute| October 24, 2014| 9.00 am IST
The Jarawa tribe of the Andaman Islands is an indigenous adivasi group whose history is ambiguous. There remain only less than 400 of them in the whole world.
The tribe has been given protection under the Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Act and the act mandated creation of a buffer zone around five kilometer radius of the Jarawa settlements. It prohibited tourism and regulated commercial establishments within the zone. The step was taken to protect the Jarawas from “undesirable outside influences” and prescribed upto seven years imprisonment for those who violated the norms.
While such stringent norms for their protection remain in force, a French film director Alexandre Dereims has entered the territory and made a documentary of the Jarawas, titled Organic.
The director has made a Facebook page Organic Jarawa where he has put up some details about the movie upcoming in 2015 and has uploaded a four-minute trailer.
The page says that the documentary stars “Utchu, a two years old Jarawa boy, his family and friends.” What is baffling is that the crew managed to enter such a protected, and prohibited, area. The trailer makes amply clear that the videos were shot with high end equipments. They say that it took them three full years to make the movie. The fact that they managed to do this without the knowledge of any officials raises eyebrows.
Theva Neethi Dhas, Secretary (Tribal Welfare) in the Andaman & Nicobar Administration told The News Minute that an FIR has been filed and a notice has been issued to the two Frenchmen – the director and the producer.
“French director Alexandre Dereims and Claire Beilvert, producer of the documentary “Organic Jarawa” may have taken the help of local poachers to enter the reserve.The Western Coast from where they seem to have entered is a long stretch. There are forces guarding this 250-300 km stretch. We believe that they must have gone inside with some local help,” the official added.
The Andaman police have issued notices to the director, producer duo and have also issued a notice restraining them from releasing the movie in 2015.
The News Minute contacted the moviemakers for a reply. Though initially their response was positive, when they were asked a few straight questions highlighting the illegality of their act, we were told that they were too busy to reply.
The crew also says on FB page that they provided food to the tribes during their stay in the prohibited area. Andamanchronicle.net editor Denis Giles posted a question whether it was ethical on their part to offer food, the Organic Jarawa replied thus:
"The rice we brought was our livestocks. And we shared this food. You are one of the best specialist of the Jarawa and you know for sure that they eat rice because they get it from some poachers for years now. Everyday dozens of poachers are hunting into the Jarawa area with the complicity of the police. They game is decreasing dramatically. You known that there is a media blackout about the Jarawa and it's the same about the Onge. Look at the Onge now! We can’t afford another genocide."
When the editor probed them further, he was blocked by the page administrator.