John Allen Chau's Death: Police retreat after 'nervous' face-off with Sentinel Island tribe

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 26 November 2018, 12:24 AM
American national John Allen Chau was allegedly killed by Sentinelese people. (YouTube/file)
American national John Allen Chau was allegedly killed by Sentinelese people. (YouTube/file)

The police have again made an unsuccessful attempt to retrieve the body of American national John Allen Chau, who was allegedly killed by Sentinelese people in North Sentinel island in Andamans on November 17, after a nervous long-distance face-off with the tribe, officials said on Sunday.  

According to reports, a joint team of the Andaman police, forest officials and tribal welfare department and the Indian Coast Guard made the second expedition on November 24 with two of the accused to identify the area where the body was spotted. Andaman DGP Dependra Pathak was also part of the mission.

The officials, however, retreated after spotting armed Sentinelese men along the shoreline to avoid any chance of a confrontation. The police team took a boat just off the North Sentinel island, Pathak said.

About 400 metres from the shore, the officers spotted the men armed with bows and arrows, the weapons they reportedly used to kill Chau as he shouted Christian phrases at them.

"They stared at us and we were looking at them," said Pathak.

Another senior police official told The Indian Express: “Two accused were taken along to pinpoint the area along the shoreline where Chau landed in the morning of November 15 and the spot where they spotted his body in the morning of November 17.”

The police are taking help of anthropologists and experts to draw a strategy to search the body of the American national, who was killed when he tried to enter the prohibited North Sentinel Island.

 The police are also perusing 13 pages of a journal written by John Allen Chau, 27, which was handed over to them by his local contact Alexander to learn more about the incident.

Chau had survived an arrow attack a day before his death as it hit the Bible he was carrying, his diary noting has revealed.

"I'm scared…Watching the sunset and it's beautiful - crying a bit . . . wondering if it will be the last sunset I see," a note in the diary of the 26-year-old American from Washington State reads. Chau had reportedly travelled to the island on a clandestine mission to convert its inhabitants to Christianity.

Chau "appeared to be a staunch believer" (of Christianity), Director General of Police, Andaman and Nicobar, Dependra Pathak, said.

He also wrote of maneuvering to avoid the Indian authorities who patrol the waters near North Sentinel Island.

"God Himself was hiding us from the Coast Guard and many patrols," he stated in a description of the boat journey. The notes written in incongruent sentences in English throw light on his misadventure.

The DGP said that as part of the probe, a police team on Friday made a trip towards the Sentinel island with Alexander, whom they have taken on remand.

Chau, an avid traveller who graduated from Oral Roberts University, had visited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands four times before.

The US national, who according to the DGP, had paid around Rs 25,000 to local fishermen to take him to the island, wrote that god sheltered him from the coast guards and the Navy.

Chau in his notes dated November 16 narrated that around 4.30 am, standing near the shore of the Sentinel island he saw two persons as the sun rose. He told them that he too has two legs.

He further recounted that he was inches from an "unusual guy about 5 ft 5" and as they got bunched together he gave them some gifts. But, the short-statured man "shot me with an arrow that directly hit the Bible which I was holding near my chest", he wrote.

Who are Sentinelese tribe?

# The Sentinelese people are among the tribes that survived the tsunami of 2004 without any help from the outside world.

# For the 2011 Census, enumerators could locate only 15 Sentinelese people - 12 men and three women. However, their numbers could be anything between 40 and 400, according to experts.

# In 2006, two Indian fishermen were killed when their boat broke loose and drifted onto the shore.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Sunday, November 25, 2018 09:22 PM
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