The Andaman police have obtained custody of three men accused of taking American national John Allen Chau to the North Sentinel Island in Andaman, who died as he attempted to make contact with the Sentinelese. John Chau was a Christian missionary who wanted to preach to the Sentinelese, the tribe that inhabits the island and is violently opposed to contact with the outside world. John was allegedly killed by the tribespersons after he reached the island.
‚ÄúPolice will interrogate [the accused] to investigate various aspects of the case, including the sequence of events, the sea route followed for North Sentinel Island, the location where the victim landed and the place of the incidence, the location where John Allen Chau was last seen,‚ÄĚ the police said.
‚ÄúFurther, the personal diary/journal of Chau will be analysed afresh accordingly. It will also be ascertained whether the victim had taken the help of these fishermen or others to venture to the North Sentinel Island on earlier occasions,‚ÄĚ the police added.
The police and Indian Coast Guard have already twice attempted recce of the Island to ascertain where John Chau died and where his body is. Now, to get a better picture, another police team is being sent to the North Sentinel Island waters, police said.
Two FIRs have been registered in the case so far. One under section 302 (murder) of the IPC. Another has been registered against seven persons under sections 282 (conveying person by water for hire in unsafe or overloaded vessel), 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others), 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 34 (criminal act done by several persons in furtherance of a common intention) of the IPC and relevant sections of the Protection of Aboriginal Tribes (Regulation) Act.
The arrested men are believed to have aided John to venture to North Sentinel Island, which is a tribal reserve and only open to people who get requisite permissions from Ministry of Tribal Welfare and Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change for serious anthropological work. Tourism or any visitation for any other purpose is not allowed on the Island. The tribe is also protected under the Protection of Aboriginal Tribes (Regulation) Act.
Police had said earlier that John was aware of the illegalities of his actions and had bribed local fishermen with Rs 25,000 to ferry him into the waters in the guise of fishing activity. Unaccompanied then, he had taken his own kayak to the North Sentinel Island. It was on the morning of November 17 that the fishermen who allegedly facilitated him saw a dead person being buried on the shore by the tribespeople, and identified him as John by his silhouette and clothing.
John had visited the Andamans earlier, and this was his sixth visit.
The Sentinelese tribe who are believed to have killed John are an ‚Äėuncontacted‚Äô people and have consistently opposed all attempts at contact with the outside world, often with violence. Their tools and methods continue to be ones from the Stone Age ‚Äď hunting and gathering, and using tools like bows and spears made of stone.
One of the challenges before the authorities right now is to retrieve John's body, which is not an easy task, as the North Sentinel Island is left alone even by local authorities to protect the 60,000-year-old tribe.
‚ÄúAs the case pertains to the ultra-sensitive tribal group ‚Äď Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG), the police is also taking help of anthropologists, academics, forest department experts etc. to guide & assist the police during the investigation of this case,‚ÄĚ Andaman police said in a statement.