The Home Ministry on Thursday called US national John Allen Chau, who was allegedly shot dead by an endangered tribe in Andaman and Nicobar islands, an adventure sports enthusiast rather than an evangelist and said he violated local laws to reach the highly-restricted island.
“We even cannot carry out proper census in the island. We can only make an assessment of the number of people living in the island through aerial survey,” a senior home ministry official said.
The 27-year-old neither informed the police nor did he seek permission from the forest department and the local administration before travelling to the North Sentinel Island, said the officials. The ministry also stated an incident of 2006, where two fishermen were killed by the Sentinelese tribals, who are fiercely against any contact with outsiders.
In June, the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) was withdrawn from 29 islands, including the North Sentinel Island, which required foreigners to take special permission to visit them.
However, the official said, “Even though one filter (RAP) was withdrawn, any foreigner is required to take permission from the forest department and the administration since the island is protected under two other acts — protection of aboriginal people and forest acts.”
Late Wednesday night, a press release issued by the Union Territory stated that Chau had enlisted the help of local electronics engineer Alexander and a water sports service provider and hired five fishermen to evade the police patrol teams, Coast Guard and Navy to approach the island. The local fishermen were paid around Rs. 25,000 by Chau.
The press release stated that the fishermen started their journey for the island on November 14 around 8 pm and reached there around midnight. The next day Chau reached the shore using his kayak that he got towed with the fishing boat.
However, on November 17, the fishermen saw a body buried under the shore, with the clothes suggesting to be that of Chau. “In the morning of November 17, they saw a dead person being buried at the shore which from the silhouette of the body, clothing and circumstances appeared to be that of Chau,” the release said.
Subsequently, the fishermen returned to Port Blair and narrated the incident to Alexander, handing him the 13 pages of the journal written by Chau. Alexander then informed a friend of Chau in the US, who in turn informed his mother. His mother then informed the US consulate that finally alerted the police on November 19.