After the death of American Christian Missionary John Chau by the highly vulnerable Sentinelese tribe in Andaman and Nicobar, the Indian government had come under fire for the lapses that led to the incursion in the protected area.
Following the furor, Dr. Nand Kumar Sai, Chairperson, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) had 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 also 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, 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.
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