In­dian po­lice map area of is­land where U.S. mis­sion­ary was killed

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Americas | World | Deaths - BY ASHOK SHARMA Associated Press


Po­lice said Satur­day that they have mapped the area of a re­mote In­dian is­land where tribes­peo­ple were seen bury­ing the body of an Amer­i­can ad­ven­turer and Chris­tian mis­sion­ary af­ter al­legedly killing him with ar­rows this month.

Dur­ing their visit to the is­land’s sur­round­ings on Fri­day, in­ves­ti­ga­tors also spot­ted four or five North Sen­tinel is­lan­ders mov­ing in the area from a dis­tance of about 1,600 feet from a boat and stud­ied their be­hav­ior for sev­eral hours, said Depen­dra Pathak, the di­rec­tor-gen­eral of po­lice of the An­daman and Ni­co­bar Is­lands, where North Sen­tinel is lo­cated.

“We have more or less iden­ti­fied the site and the area in gen­eral,” Pathak said by phone.

In­dian au­thor­i­ties have been strug­gling to fig­ure out how to re­cover the body of 26-year-old John Allen Chau, who was killed by North Sen­tinel is­lan­ders who ap­par­ently shot him with ar­rows and then buried his body on the beach.

Fri­day’s visit was the sec­ond boat ex­pe­di­tion of the week by a team of po­lice and of­fi­cials from the for­est depart­ment, tribal wel­fare depart­ment and coast guard, Pathak said.

The of­fi­cials took two of the seven peo­ple ar­rested for help­ing Chau get close to the is­land in an ef­fort to de­ter­mine his route and the cir­cum­stances of his death. The fish­er­men who had taken Chau to the shore saw the tribes­peo­ple drag­ging and bury­ing his body on the morn­ing of Nov. 17.

Pathak said in­ves­ti­ga­tors have asked ex­perts to give them “the nu­ances of the group’s con­duct and be­hav­ior, par­tic­u­larly in this kind of vi­o­lent be­hav­ior,” be­fore they at­tempt to re­cover the body.

Of­fi­cials typ­i­cally don’t travel to the North Sen­tinel area, where peo­ple live as their an­ces­tors did thou­sands of years ago. The only con­tacts, oc­ca­sional “gift giv­ing” vis­its in which ba­nanas and co­conuts were passed by small teams of of­fi­cials and schol­ars who re­mained in the surf, were years ago.

In­dian ships mon­i­tor the wa­ters around the is­land, try­ing to en­sure that out­siders do not go near the Sen­tine­lese, who have re­peat­edly made clear they want to be left alone.

Chau went to “share the love of Je­sus,” said Mary Ho, in­ter­na­tional ex­ec­u­tive leader of All Na­tions. All Na­tions, a Kansas City, Mis­souri-based or­ga­ni­za­tion, helped train Chau, dis­cussed the risks with him and sent him on the mis­sion, to sup­port him in his “life’s call­ing,” she added.

“He wanted to have a long-term re­la­tion­ship, and if pos­si­ble, to be ac­cepted by them and live amongst them,” she said.

When a young boy tried to hit him with an ar­row on his first day on the is­land, Chau swam back to the fish­ing boat he had ar­ranged to wait for him off­shore. The ar­row, he wrote, hit a Bi­ble he was car­ry­ing.

“Why did a lit­tle kid have to shoot me to­day?” he wrote in his notes, which he left with the fish­er­men be­fore swim­ming back the next morn­ing. “His high­pitched voice still lingers in my head.”

Po­lice say Chau knew that the Sen­tine­lese re­sisted all con­tact by out­siders, fir­ing ar­rows and spears at pass­ing he­li­copters and killing fish­er­men who drift onto their shore. His notes, which were re­ported Thurs­day in In­dian news­pa­pers and con­firmed by po­lice, make clear he knew he might be killed.

Schol­ars know al­most noth­ing about the is­land, from how many peo­ple live there to what lan­guage they speak. The An­damans once had other sim­i­lar groups, long-ago mi­grants from Africa and South­east Asia who set­tled in the is­land chain, but their numbers have dwin­dled dra­mat­i­cally over the past cen­tury as a re­sult of dis­ease, in­ter­mar­riage and mi­gra­tion.

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