Andaman and Nicobar Islands has a unique demographic feature of tribal. There are aboriginal tribal groups and also those tribal groups who have been brought to these islands for the development of the islands. The aboriginal tribal groups require protection from external intervention so that they can develop in their own society the way they want to develop. There have been interventions in areas where these aboriginal tribal groups are living. These interventions are also supported by Administration and some of the interventions are illegal. Human Rights Foundation always fights for the rights of the aboriginal tribal groups and protection of their identity. In this endeavour, HRF uses the tool of awareness meetings and discussions with other groups to ensure safety and protection of the rights of the aboriginal tribal groups. If necessary, HRF also takes the assistance of judiciary in achieving the goal of protecting the rights of the aboriginal tribal groups and their identities.
Another tribal group of the islands is of those who were brought primarily from Jharkhand, Odisha and other tribal areas for development of the islands. They are still living on the islands, but are not recognised as tribal on these islands despite the fact that they are recognised tribal in their respective parent state. After living in these islands for so many years, it’s now impossible for them to return to their native places. But for their overall development and protection of their rights, it is important to recognise them as tribal in these islands as well. HRF is doing a continuous effort in this direction.
Further, the rights of the tribal are also required to be recognised and protected. HRF also endeavours to achieve the goal that the tribal groups know about their rights and also exert these.
The Indian Constitution banned the practice of untouchablity under Article 17 and the Schedule Caste/ Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989 was introduced to combat persecution and discrimination against Dalits and tribal people. Despite the existence of these strong legal provisions, Dalit and tribal populations have found it virtually impossible to access their rights through the legal system. In this context, the HRF provides legal aid and rights-awareness to members of Dalit and Tribal communities and uses the law to ensure that the violation of Dalit and Tribal rights are addressed through the legal system.