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Jarawa tribal accused of baby's murder cannot be arrested

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:56 IST

The police in the Andaman Islands are faced with a case in which they cannot arrest a person accused of murdering a five-month-old baby because he belongs to the Jarawa tribe, which is off-limits according to the law.

The Jarawa tribe is one of the last untouched tribal civilisations in the world. With only 400 members, the tribe has lived in complete isolation from other cultures till 1998.

The case involves the murder of a baby who might have been conceived after rape by a non-tribal man because it was considerably lighter in skin colour than the rest of the tribe. Jarawas fiercely protect their 'purity' of lineage, says the Hindustan Times.

Tribal welfare officer M Janagi Savuriyamal first heard about the mixed-race baby when he was brought in for a medical check-up, a New York Times report says.

Five months later, Savuriyammal received an alert and rushed to the tribal camp where she learned the baby was missing, after which she filed a complaint with the police.

According to the NYT report, two witnesses told the police that they saw an outsider drinking with a Jarawa man named Tatehane, who then slipped into the woman's hut and took her baby. The baby was later found buried in sand.

The police have arrested the man seen with Tatehane, and the suspected rapist father of the baby, but cannot arrest Tatehane himself. They are now waiting for guidance from the department of tribal welfare.

First published: 16 March 2016, 7:54 IST