27-year-old US man shot dead with arrows by remote tribe after landing on island
A 27-year-old American man was reportedly shot dead with arrows by a tribe on a remote Indian island as soon as he set foot on their home.
John Allen Chau paid local fisherman to take him to North Sentinel Island, which is home to the Sentinelese, an indigenous group who refuse contact with the outside world.
The US citizen allegedly went hoping he could encourage the endangered tribe to convert to Christianity, but instead was met with a flurry of arrows when he arrived to the island, which is off-bounds to visitors.
His dead body was seen by fishermen on the island, which is located in India's remote Andaman and Nicobar chain.
A senior police officer confirmed to Andaman Sheekha that a murder case had been registered against unknown members of the Sentinelese tribe.
However, because contact with the tribe is forbidden, Chau's killers allegedly cannot be prosecuted for taking his life.
In addition, police have reportedly stated that seven fishermen have been arrested for illegally ferrying the missionary to the island.
Jatin Narwal, Superintendent of Police at Port Blair, told TNM that Chau was last seen alive on November 16. He added that he believed the traveler's main aim was to meet the tribe.
"He lived in Alabama, US. He is some kind of paramedic. He was on a misplaced adventure in prohibited area to meet uncontacted persons," he said. "People thought he is a missionary because he had mentioned his position on god and that he was a believer on social media or somewhere online. But in a strict sense, he was not a missionary. He was an adventurer. His intention was to meet the aborigines."
A source talking to the AFP also gave more information on the 27-year-old's death, stating that the tribe put a piece of rope around Chau's neck and dragged him away, after hitting him with the arrows.
"He tried to reach the Sentinel island on November 14 but could not make it," they claimed. "Two days later he went well prepared. He left the dinghy midway and took a canoe all by himself to the island. He was attacked by arrows but he continued walking. The fishermen saw the tribals tying a rope around his neck and dragging his body. They were scared and fled but returned next morning to find his body on the seashore."
In a statement addressing the murder, Survival International - which has long been campaigning to protect the indigenous tribes living in the Andamans - named the incident a "tragedy" and stressed the Sentinelese's tribe's vulnerability, with concerns to disease.
"This tragedy should never have been allowed to happen," the group's international director, Stephen Corry, said. "The Indian authorities should have been enforcing the protection of the Sentinelese and their island for the safety of both the tribe, and outsiders. Instead, a few months ago the authorities lifted one of the restrictions that had been protecting the Sentinelese tribe’s island from foreign tourists, which sent exactly the wrong message, and may have contributed to this terrible event."
He continued: "It’s not impossible that the Sentinelese have just been infected by deadly pathogens to which they have no immunity, with the potential to wipe out the entire tribe. The Sentinelese have shown again and again that they want to be left alone, and their wishes should be respected."