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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

American national John Allen Chau violated every rule in the book to meet the Sentinelese

US national John Allen Chau, 27, was killed with arrows as he illegally set foot on North Sentinel Island in the Indian Ocean after paddling there in a kayak last week.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2018 23:39 IST
Tanmay Chatterjee and Prawesh Lama
Tanmay Chatterjee and Prawesh Lama
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
“God sheltered me and camouflaged me against the coast guard and the navy,” John Allen Chau (pictured) wrote before he was killed last week on North Sentinel Island.
“God sheltered me and camouflaged me against the coast guard and the navy,” John Allen Chau (pictured) wrote before he was killed last week on North Sentinel Island.(Reuters)

Andaman officials on Friday said restrictions on entry of foreigners, tourists and research officials were still in place near North Sentinel Island, where American citizen John Allen Chau was killed on November 16, though a home ministry notification had exempted foreigners from a restricted area permit (RAP) in June this year.

Andaman and Nicobar Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Regulation (1956) is the principal law that protects aboriginal tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

“This law restricts any kind of visit to North Sentinel Island and similar islands unless the trip is cleared by the highest authority,” said C Raghu, head of the regional office of the Anthropological Survey of India in Port Blair. Dependra Pathak, director general of police of the union territory, said there were additional restrictions under the Indian Forest Act, 1927, that provides for imprisonment for entering a forest area without requisite permission.

The tourism industry, tour guides and tourists of Indian and foreign origin have to follow rules and restrictions under Andaman & Nicobar Islands Tourism Trade Regulation, 2017. These laws cover all islands in the region.

Foreign nationals require a RAP to visit the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which is available from the immigration department on arrival at Port Blair and at Indian foreign offices in several countries. The permit is valid for 30 days and can be extended by 15 days. Citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan are required to seek permission from the Union home ministry to visit the Andamans.

Another police official requesting anonymity said Chau knew about the restrictions and, therefore, bribed fishermen to take him to the island. Chau carried an abdominal pad, a chest shield, vitamins and a medicine that would help clot blood quickly, according to his journal that police recovered from the fishermen. The 26-year-old was killed during his second visit to the island allegedly by the Sentinelese, the last uncontacted tribe in the world.

“Well, I have been shot by the Sentinelese probably by a kid about ten years old. The teenager was short compared to those who looked like adults,” Chau said in an entry dated November 15, 13.40 hours, South Cove of the North Sentinel Island. On Friday, a team of officers from Andaman police and the Coast Guard surveyed the island from a distance.

Till Friday evening, they had not spotted any islander on the beach, a police officer said, adding that they had taken with them one of the arrested fishermen who accompanied Chau to the island and had seen the tribals bury him. “We wanted the fisherman to show us the exact spot where Chau was taken and buried,” Pathak said.

Investigating officers found Chau’s 13-page handwritten note from the fishermen and are analysing it to understand the events leading to his death in the island in the wee hours of November 17. “He knew he would be shot and thus carried the first aid. From his notes, we can say that Chau thought he would be able to cure himself if he was attacked. His judgement was totally wrong,” a senior investigating officer, who did not want to be named, said.

From Chau’s notes, police have also found that some of the items he carried as gifts for the islanders were scissors, tweezers, fishing line, hook, rubber tubes, cordage, safety pin and new towels. On Friday, a team of officers from Andaman police, Coast Guard conducted a recee of the island from a distance. The team visited near the North Sentinel Beach and stayed there until Friday evening but could not see any islander in the beach.

First Published: Nov 23, 2018 21:38 IST