American ‘killed by arrow-wielding’ tribe

The Sentinelese have always resisted outside contact

The Sentinelese have always resisted outside contact

An American man has been killed by an endangered tribe in India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Fishermen who took the man to North Sentinel Island say tribes’ people shot him with arrows and left his body on the beach.

He has been identified as John Allen Chau, a 27 year old from Alabama.

Contact with the endangered Andaman tribes living in isolation from the world is illegal because of the risks to them from outside disease.

Estimates say the Sentinelese, who are totally cut off from civilisation, number only between 50 and 150.

Seven fishermen have been arrested for illegally ferrying the American to the island, police say.

Local media have reported that Chau may have wanted to meet the tribe to preach Christianity to them.

“Police said Chau had previously visited North Sentinel island about four or five times with the help of local fishermen,” journalist Subir Bhaumik, who has been covering the islands for years, told BBC Hindi.

“The number of people belonging to the Sentinelese tribe is so low; they don’t even understand how to use money. It’s in fact illegal to have any sort of contact with them.”

In 2017, the Indian government also said taking photographs or making videos of the aboriginal Andaman tribes would be punishable with imprisonment of up to three years.

The AFP news agency quoted a source as saying that Chau had tried and failed to reach the island on November 14. But then he tried again two days later.

“He was attacked by arrows but he continued walking.

“The fishermen saw the tribals tying a rope around his neck and dragging his body. They were scared and fled,” the report added.

Chau’s body was spotted on November 20. According to the Hindustan Times, his remains have yet to be recovered.

“It’s a difficult case for the police,” says Mr Bhaumik. “You can’t even arrest the Sentinelese.”

Two Indian fishermen fishing illegally off North Sentinel Island were also killed by the tribe in 2006.

I first heard of the Sentinelese in 2004 just after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami.

I was at the daily press briefing by the authorities a few days later when we were told that the members of the isolated tribes had survived.

A navy helicopter on patrol had flown over the North Sentinel island of the archipelago where the Sentinelese live to check on them. -BBC

email
Print Friendly

Leave a Comment