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Cops Ask Anthropologists to Come Up With Strategy to Trace US Missionary’s Body on 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.


Updated:November 22, 2018, 9:22 PM IST
Cops Ask Anthropologists to Come Up With Strategy to Trace US Missionary’s Body on Sentinel Island
Three months before an American tourist was allegedly killed by the primitive Sentinelese tribe, the central government had reversed its ‘eyes on hands off’ policy and lifted restrictions to visit the island in a bid to boost tourism.

Port Blair: The police are taking help of anthropologists and experts to draw a strategy to search the body of the American national, who was killed allegedly by members of a protected and reclusive tribe when he tried to enter the prohibited North Sentinel Island, Andaman and Nicobar DGP Dependra Pathak said on Thursday.

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, Pathak said.

Chau was killed possibly with arrows. But, Andaman Police PRO Jatin Narwal had said on Wednesday that it was a subject of probe. He had maintained that the death was caused by traditional weapons, adding that it cannot be specifically said whether he was killed by arrows or spears.

Pathak said contacts have been established with experts of Anthropological Survey of India, forest department, academicians and also of state tribal welfare department to prepare a strategy to reach to the place of incident and also search the body. "Some success has been achieved in this direction so far," he said but refused to give details.

The access to North Sentinel Island and its buffer zone is strictly restricted under the Protection of Aboriginal Tribe (Regulation), 1956 and Regulations under Indian Forest Act, 1927.

In the journal penned by Chau, he gave an account of his venture to the prohibited island thanking his mother and god for helping him hide from coast guard and navy patrols. "The mother and god himself helped shielding us from coast guard and navy patrols," read a noting in the journal.

It also talks about Chau successfully reaching the shore of the island with friends and waiting to make contact with them.

The DGP in a press statement Wednesday had given details of Chau enlisting the help of local electronics engineer Alexander and a water sports service provider and hiring five fishermen to evade the patrolling teams of police, Coast Guard and Navy to approach the island.

For this, the local fishermen were paid around Rs 25,000 by Chau. After dropping Chau, the fishermen had fixed their timings and place to meet each between the shoreline and their their high sea fishing area.

"In the morning of November 17, they saw a dead person being buried at the shore which from the silhouette of the body, clothing and circumstances appeared to be the body of Chau," the DGP said, defining the circumstances leading to Chau's death, almost five days after the incident.

Subsequently, they returned to Port Blair and narrated the incident to Alexander and handed him the 13 pages of the journal written by Chau.

Alexander informed Bobby Parks, a friend of Chau, in the US, who in turn informed his mother. His mother informed the US Consulate which in turn alerted the police on November 19.

Police have arrested seven, six fishermen and local contact Alexander for violating the provisions of the PAT Regulation and causing death of Chau. A case of murder has also been registered against anonymous persons, it said.

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.

The natives of the Sentinel island have past record of attacking visitors to their island. In 2006, two Indian fishermen, who had moored their boat near North Sentinel to sleep after poaching in the waters around the island, were killed when their boat broke loose and drifted onto the shore.

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