After several days of failed attempts to locate and retrieve the body of American national John Allen Chau, who is believed to have been killed by the protected Sentinelese tribe on the North Sentinel Island in Andaman and Nicobar earlier this month, a joint team of Andaman police, forest officials and tribal welfare department made a second round of the island with two of those arrested in connection with the death. However, they had to return after spotting armed Sentinelese tribes along the shore line.
DGP Dependra Pathak was part of the expedition, which took place on November 23, with the help of Indian Coast Guard. Police are questioning three of the accused and trying to re-create the sequence of event and the route taken to the North Sentinel Island.
Chau went to the North Sentinel Island to preach Christianity when he was reportedly killed by the tribes. Fishermen who took him there spotted his body on November 17.
Police PRO Vijay Singh said, “The fresh expedition to North Sentinel Island was undertaken on November 23. Our team spotted the armed tribals. It is their island and we saw them.”
A senior police official said, “Tribal welfare department officers, forest officials and a police team led by senior officials took a coast guard vessel. Two accused were also taken along to pinpoint the area along the shore line where Chau landed on November 15 morning and the spot where they spotted his body on November 17,” said a senior official.
“We went in the morning and returned in the evening. When we approached the island, keeping safe distance, we spotted some of the tribals with bows and arrows. Our mission was not to disturb the tribes. Therefore we returned,” the officer added.
The two accused who were taken along were Sau Jumpo and M Bhumi, the boatmen who took Chau to the Island and later spotted his body. “We are interrogating the accused to re-create the sequence of events which led to the death. The route followed and the location where they dropped Chau and where the body was spotted. Despite several attempts we have not been able to spot the body,” said a senior police officer.
DGP Pathak had earlier told The Indian Express that he is in touch with anthropologists and experts to find a way to reach the island without disturbing the tribals. “Our priority is to make sure that the Sentinelse are not to be disturbed in any way,” he had said.
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes expressed grave concern over the intrusion of the American in the restricted area. The Commission has sought a report from the Andaman and Nicobar Island administration as well as the Union home ministry.