Iso­lated is­land tribe kills Amer­i­can tourist

Sought to con­vert tribes­men in ‘pro­hib­ited area’

Calgary Herald - - NEWS - ROZ­INA SABUR

• Prim­i­tive tribes­men have killed an Amer­i­can tourist after he il­le­gally ven­tured on to their re­mote is­land home in In­dia.

John Chau, 27, was met with a vol­ley of ar­rows as he set foot on North Sen­tinel Is­land, part of the An­daman Is­lands in the In­dian Ocean.

Po­lice sources told lo­cal me­dia that Chau was a mis­sion­ary and trav­elled to the is­land to try to con­vert the Sen­tine­lese tribe to Chris­tian­ity.

But Depen­dra Pathak, a po­lice of­fi­cer, dis­puted this, telling News Minute, a lo­cal web­site, that the Amer­i­can “was on a mis­placed ad­ven­ture in (a) pro­hib­ited area to meet un­con­tacted per­sons.”

The case has cast a rare spot­light on the Sen­tine­lese tribe, one of the last in the world thought to be un­touched by mod­ern civ­i­liza­tion.

Chau was killed on Nov. 16 when he paid lo­cal fish­er­men to trans­port him to the is­land, ac­cord­ing to a po­lice source.

“He was at­tacked by ar­rows but he con­tin­ued walk­ing. The fish­er­men saw the trib­als ty­ing a rope around his neck and drag­ging his body,” the source said.

“They were scared and fled but re­turned next morn­ing to find his body on the seashore.”

In­dian me­dia re­ported that the fish­er­men told a preacher in Port Blair, the main town of the An­damans, about the in­ci­dent, who then con­tacted Chau’s fam­ily in the U.S.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial sources, Chau had a tourist visa to en­ter the An­daman Is­lands, where ac­cess to some re­stricted zones is given, and had made sev­eral trips to other An­daman Is­lands be­fore of­fer­ing money to fish­er­men to take him to North Sen­tinel.

Out­siders are banned from go­ing within five kilo­me­tres of the tribe’s home to pro­tect their way of life and to safe­guard them from 21stcen­tury dis­eases.

Tribes such as the Sen­tine­lese, be­lieved to be only 150 in num­ber, shun con­tact with the out­side world and have a record of hos­til­ity to any­one who tries to get close.

In 2006, two fish­er­men who moored their boat to sleep were killed when it broke loose and drifted on to North Sen­tinel. Their bod­ies were never re­cov­ered.

The le­gal reper­cus­sions of Chau’s killing are un­clear. How­ever, po­lice in the is­land chain in the Bay of Ben­gal have launched a mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.


Tribes­men with bows are seen on In­dia’s North Sen­tinel is­land, a re­mote area un­touched by mod­ern civ­i­liza­tion and off-lim­its to out­side vis­i­tors.

John Chau


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