May 9, 2021

Covid 19 in Andaman & Nicober : The indigenous tribes face extinction threat

Pic: File

Port Blair, Aug. 23: A slice of paradise is now suffering from Covid 19 pandemic. The islands have seen an alarming rise in infections since reporting the first case on 26 March.
The ‘civilized’ world has brought many disasters that the islanders have somehow endured. But this pandemic strikes them very badly; it will probably be the very last straw.
The Andaman Islands, home to the Jarawa, Onge and Shompen indigenous people, whose low natural immunity makes them particularly vulnerable to diseases, have recorded several coronavirus cases directly linked to the religious congregation in South Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz, organized by Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary movement. Local authorities have found that several people who had attended the event in Delhi made their way back to the islands before the country was placed under lockdown on 25 March.

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Experts said the current situation poses a grave risk to the tribes, especially the Jarawas who live in tribal reserves barely 100km from capital Port Blair, where most infections have been reported.
Experts opined that the situation had arisen due to the carelessness of AAJVS which was entrusted to look after the welfare of the aboriginal tribe of Andaman Islands. “There should have been a strict vigil on the movement of the few Great Andamanese tribe who remain and are already on the verge of extinction”, said an expert on condition of anonymity.
The situation calls for a high vigil and extra caution, as a single mistake could mean the beginning of the end of the tribes who have been surviving in isolation in the Andaman Islands for thousands of years.