Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Jarawa Tragedy: Four Deaths Reported in Three Months. Investigation Still On?

Jarawa Tragedy: Four Deaths Reported in Three Months.
Investigation Still On?

Bureau Report

Kadamtala, Oct. 22: As many as four children of the Jarawa Tribe died during the past three months. The last death was recorded in September 2014 at Tirur. All these children were below the age of one year. The reason gathered is lack of Post Natal Care and administering of expired Allopathic medicines issued by the AAJVS.

While two children belonged to Tirur area, two others died at Punna Nallah and Choudhary Ghumai, inside the Jarawa Tribal Reserve.

“Unless we have a proper report on this from an expert, we cannot come to a conclusion,” said G. Theva Neethi Dhas, IAS, Secretary (Tribal Welfare) in the Andaman & Nicobar Administration.

When AC/LOA tried to investigate into the matter, it was learnt that there was sheer neglect on the part of the AAJVS when it comes to monitoring the health of the Jarawa tribe. All four children had died due to lack of proper post natal care and two among them were victims of expired medicines.

The investigation also revealed that the Jarawa are given medicines by the AAJVS when they complain of minor ailments but there is no proper watch on whether the course of medicines is completed. Documentary evidence revealed the Jarawa members in possession of expired stocks of medicines.

“We are enquiring into it”, said the Secretary Tribal Welfare.

“Being a medical issue, we have to consult a doctor before coming to any conclusion. There are allegations of expired medicines”, said Dhas.   

On being asked to comment on the issue, Dr. Vishwajit Pandya, Honorary Director of Andaman Nicobar Tribal Research Insititute (ANTRI) said he is well aware of the issue. Complaints with documentary evidences of neglect in health care of the tribe had been submitted to the concerned authorities soon after the incident. “Surprisingly nothing much has been done in the case”, Pandya added.

The Jarawa today number above 400 and live in a stretch of Tribal Reserve starting from Constance Bay in South Andaman to Lewis Inlet Bay in Middle Andaman. The death of four children amounts to a loss of one percent of the entire population of the tribe. Had there been a death in the so called civilized society due to neglect on the part of health department, the Andaman Administration under pressure would be forced to conduct Post Mortem examination through a Medical Board.

The loss of one percent of the Jarawa population does not seem to ring a bell among the authorities. This is evident from the kind and pace of enquiry being conducted. The incident is also a glaring example of what the so called civilized world has to offer the voiceless Jarawa of Andaman Islands.

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