The Centre on Thursday denied that the American national allegedly killed by members of a protected tribe in the Andamans was a missionary even as it claimed his death was due to his enthusiasm in adventure sports and not in any evangelist mission. However, the American national John Allen Chau violated local laws to reach the highly-restricted island, officials said.
Chau, 27, neither informed police as is required under the law nor did he take permission from the forest department and the local administration before reaching the North Sentinel Island, where two fishermen were also killed in 2006 by the Sentinelese tribals who are fiercely opposed to establishing any contact with foreigners.
“We even cannot carry out proper census in the island. We can only make an assessment of the number of people living in the island through aerial survey,” a senior Home Ministry 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. Recent circulars of the Union Home Ministry also restrict movement of foreigners in these areas.
“Despite knowing fully well about the illegality of the action and the hostile attitude of the Sentinelese tribesmen to the outsiders, these people (seven persons arrested in the case) collaborated with John Chau for this visit to North Sentinel Island without any permission from the authorities,” according to a statement by the Director General of Andaman and Nicobar Police Dependra Pathak. .
Pathak said Chau had enlisted the help of local electronics engineer Alexander and a water sports service provider and hired 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. “They started on November 14 around 8 PM for the North Sentinel Island and reached there by midnight. The next day, Chau moved to shore using his kayak which he got towed with the fishing boat. After dropping him the fishermen fixed their timings and place to meet each other between the shoreline and 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,” Pathak said in his statement through a release issued late on Wednesday night.
Subsequently, they returned to Port Blair and narrated the incident to Alexander and handed him the 13 pages of the journal written by Chau.