Police reportedly cannot recover the body of American man killed by remote tribe
Yesterday, reports emerged that 27-year-old John Allen Chau had been killed by the tribespeople of North Sentinel Island.
Chau, an American, had allegedly gone to the remote island in order to convert the Sentinelese to Christianity, and had ignored all warnings of the people's hostility to outsiders.
Now, Indian police (the nearest authority to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where North Sentinel Island is situated), have disclosed that - due to the historically difficult relationship the Sentinelese have had with any visitors - it may be impossible to recover Chau's body from the island.
According to the Associated Press, officers are in talks with anthropologists, tribal welfare experts, and scholars in order to establish the best way to recover the man's remains.
"We have to see what is possible, taking utmost care of the sensitivity of the group and the legal requirements," said Dependera Pathak, director-general of police on India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
While this is going on, it is still being established exactly why the young man wanted to visit the island.
According to the Washington Post, Chau's final letter to his family said, "You guys might think I'm crazy in all of this but I think it's worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people ... God, I don't want to die."
In response to his murder, Chau's family - who are also Christian - have expressed their forgiveness for his killers, saying that Chau "loved God, life, helping those in need, and had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people".
Jatin Narwal, a Police Superintendent, reported that Chau was last seen alive on November 16th.
"He lived in Alabama, US. He is some kind of paramedic. He was on a misplaced adventure in a 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."
Though Chau was the only one to have been killed in the incident, seven other people have been arrested in connection with taking him to the Island, at least five of whom are fishermen.
According to an anonymous source who spoke to Reuters, Chau had taken scissors, safety pins, and a football as gifts to the tribe, and went with the intention of winning their favour. He wrote that he was "doing this to establish the kingdom of Jesus on the island... Do not blame the natives if I am killed," the source said.
The Sentinelese speak a language that is not known to any other people on Earth, not even other peoples based in the Andaman Islands, and so previous attempts to reach out to them have all been unsuccessful.
Over the years, it has been agreed that the tribe should be left to their own devices, as they pose no threat to anyone outside of their own small space of land. Indeed, the last time they killed someone (which was in 2006, when a fisherman - presumed to be drunk - strayed onto their shores), the Indian government elected not to prosecute any members of the tribe, as they are considered to be independent.