Baby's murder might change things for India's oldest Andaman island tribe

Jarawas are believed to be the first tribe to successfully migrate out of Africa when they came to the Andaman islands 60,000 years ago.

Port Blair: India’s oldest and most isolated tribe Jarawa, which have been granted special protection from the law of the land, may soon face changes after a member of their community was accused of murdering a five-month-old infant. The baby’s body was found near the tribe’s settlement area in Andaman and Nicobar islands.

No member of the Jarawa tribe has ever been arrested because the law protects them and the police are instructed not to interfere in their activities. If there is an incident of them committing crime in neighbouring villages, they are simply escorted back to their 300 square mile reserve. However, that might change soon since a number of witnesses are coming forward to authorities about this murder.

Police are speculating that the baby was murdered because his skin was lighter than the rest of his family, hinting that his father could have been an outsider since his mother was unmarried.

Two female members of the tribe allege that they saw a tribesman consuming alcohol with an unidentified person who had entered the area a night before the infant’s murder, according to a report in The New York Times. The non-tribal man has been arrested under charges of abetting murder and interfering with aboriginal tribes.

The Jarawa man, named Tatehane, reportedly took the child while his mother was asleep. His body was found washed up on a beach the next morning. The matter has been forwarded to the Tribal Welfare Department, and despite being accused of drowning the child, Tatehane has not yet been arrested. While the mother’s relationship with the father is still being investigated, another non-tribal man has been arrested on charges of rape.

Atul Kumar Thakur, Andaman police superintendent, said that 'nobody is above the law' but added that the tribe has 'special status’. “We are duty-bound to protect their interests,” he said.

The Jarawas are believed to the first tribe to successfully migrate out of Africa when they came of the Andaman islands approximately 60,000 years ago. While some argue that contact with the tribe should be avoided, others believe that they should be given the choice to embrace the benefits of modern life.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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