National

Centre may bring back curbs in Andamans

The North Sentinel Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.   | Photo Credit: AP

The Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, Nand Kumar Sai, has said the Centre may like to revisit its decision to lift the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) system from 29 islands of Andaman and Nicobar, after the death of U.S. citizen John Allen Chau.

Mr. Sai, who is leading a delegation of the Commission to the islands, told The Hindu that the lifting of the regime proved problematic and the decision had “many pros and cons that needed to be re-looked”.

“I feel that the government should rethink its decision to open these 29 islands to foreigners as the presence of the Sentinelese and their desire to avoid [contacts with] outsiders demonstrate that these are sensitive zones,” he said.

However, the death of John Allen Chau could not be linked to the withdrawal of the regime. “The Commission will deliberate upon the issue once we return to Delhi and finalise our report on the incident.”

To develop tourism, the RAP regime, in place since 1963, was lifted around August this year from 29 islands, including the North Sentinel (where Chau was reportedly killed). Though the regime was withdrawn, a tourist is required to take permission from the Forest Department and the local administration as it is protected under two other Acts.

Mr. Sai said there might have been some carelessness in tracking the movements of Chau. “We have spoken to senior members of the administration, including Lt. Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Admiral (retired) D.K. Joshi,” he said.

“It is good that the administration is persisting in its efforts to recover Chau’s body; it should be done without further disturbing the Sentinelese,” he said.

“We also met representatives of NGOs working here, including those of the VHP and the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (affiliated to the RSS)...,” he said.

“Our visits to the Nicobar islands have revealed that there has been much conversion activity by Christian missionaries, and our view is that further contact with tribal groups that have various degrees of exposure to other societies should be on their own terms, and nothing should be forced upon them,” he said.

The delegation will be in Chennai on Thursday and then return to Delhi.


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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 11:59:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-may-bring-back-curbs-in-andamans/article25674111.ece

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