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No Evidence to Suggest John Allen Chau's Trip to Andaman Had Any Religious Motive, Say Police

The officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs told CNN-News18 that local enquiry suggests Chau was into adventure sports and travel.

Arunima | CNN-News18Arunima24

Updated:November 22, 2018, 7:18 PM IST
No Evidence to Suggest John Allen Chau's Trip to Andaman Had Any Religious Motive, Say Police
American missionary John Allen Chau.
New Delhi: The Andaman and Nicobar police have concluded John Allen Chau, the American national allegedly killed by people belonging to the protected Sentinelese tribe in the North Sentinel Island, was not a missionary.

"There is nothing to indicate that he was a missionary," the police said in its report to the union government.

The officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs told CNN-News18 that local enquiry suggests Chau was into adventure sports and travel.

"His social media profile was scanned and his contacts/friends in Andaman spoken to, post which police have informed the MHA that it does not appear he was a missionary," the official said.

Deepender Pathak, DGP, Andaman and Nicobar Police informed the MHA that John Allen Chau, who came to Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands on Nov 16 got killed at North Sentinel Island "during his misplaced adventure in the highly restricted area while trying to interact with the un-contacted people who have a history of vigorous rejection towards outsiders."

The police said they got to know about Chau after his mother informed the US authorities that he was missing.

“On Nov 19, an e-mail was received from US Consulate General, Chennai, wherein it was stated that they have received a communication from the mother of one Mr. John Allen Chau, a citizen of United States of America, about her son’s visit to North Sentinel Island and attack by the tribesmen. Based on the mother’s email, a missing report was immediately registered in Police Station Pahargaon and a detailed enquiry was initiated," said the police report to MHA.

The police said that during its initial investigation it got revealed that John Allen Chau, who visited the Andaman & Nicobar Islands few times in the past as well, had reached North Sentinel Island with the help of a local friend named Alexander, an electronics engineer, Saw Remmis, a local water sports help and 5 other fishermen, who are: Saw Jampo, Saw Taray, Saw Watson, Saw Molian and M. Bhumi. They actively facilitated and accompanied Chau to North Sentinel Island under the camouflage of fishing activity to evade the patrolling teams of police, Coast Guard and Navy. For this, the local fishermen were paid around Rs 25,000 by him.

After reaching North Sentinel Island, Chau tried to contact the local tribesmen and offered some gifts such as a small football, playing ring, fishing line, scissors, medical kit etc. During his attempts to befriend the Sentinelese, he was shot with an arrow by an unknown person. He was last seen alive by the accompanying fishermen on November 16,” DGP Pathak said.

“On November 17, 2018, around 6:30 am, John’s fishermen friends (who were waiting in the dinghy at a distance) saw a dead body being dragged and buried by unknown persons near the shore. From the silhouette of the body, clothing and circumstances, it appeared to be the body of John Allen Chau to them. On their return to Port Blair, they narrated the incident to John’s friend Alexander (28), an electronic engineer by profession and a resident of Dairy Farm. It was Alexander who got him (John) to meet one Saw Jampo, fisherman and one Saw Remmis who arranged his trip to North Sentinel Islands for missionary activities. Alexander and Remmis had stayed back and the rest had left for North Sentinel Island on November 14,” Pathak further said.

A Washington Post report had quoted from a journal which Chou reportedly handed over to the fishermen before going to Sentinel island to suggest that he was going to "introduce sentinalese to Jesus."

However, the police say that no evidence has been found to suggest that his trip had any religious motive. "None of the churches in Andaman had any knowledge of his presence. If he was going to Sentinel with intentions of converting the tribals, some local church or Parish would have known,” an official told CNN-News18.

Sources said that no religious material has been found in Chau's belongings.

The MHA officials said that Chau did violate norms by going to the sentinel island. "Permission from the Ministry of tribal affairs and forest has to be taken by Indian natinals too to visit this island. A foreigner going without informing or taking permission is definitely illegal," an MHA official said.

"Access to North Sentinel Island and its buffer zone is strictly restricted under Protection of Aboriginal Tribe (Regulation), 1956 and Regulations under Indian Forest Act, 1927. Ministry of Home Affairs, through its recent circulars also restricts movement of foreigners in these areas. Despite knowing full well about the illegality of the action and the hostile attitude of the Sentinelese tribesmen to the outsiders, these people collaborated with John Chau for this visit to North Sentinel Island without any permission from the authorities. All seven of the aforementioned persons were, therefore, booked and arrested in a separate case," the MHA said.

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