ON THE evening of November 16, John Allen Chau handed over a 13-page journal to the fishermen who had accompanied him to near the North Sentinel Island, home to the protected Sentinelese tribe, in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He was injured, but insisted on returning to the island, where he is suspected to have died after being shot by arrows.
The journal, which was shared by Chau’s mother with The Washington Post, details his last hours. Quoting from his journal, The Washington Post said the Sentinelese men, about 5 feet-5 inches tall with yellow paste on their faces, reacted angrily when Chau tried to speak their language and sing “worship songs” to them.
“I hollered, ‘My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you’,” Chau wrote in his journal. One of the men shot at him with an arrow, which pierced his waterproof Bible, he wrote. “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people,” he wrote. “God, I don’t want to die. Why does this beautiful place have to have so much death here… I hope this isn’t one of my last notes but if it is ‘to God be the Glory’,” he wrote.
Chau’s social media accounts show that he had made four trips to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the past, starting in 2015. This time, he came to India in mid-October. In an Instagram post on November 2, he wrote about travelling to Diglipur, in North Andaman. He posted a photo of a tropical waterfall, and commented that it was full of leeches. He also had a blog, ‘theruggedtrail’, where he wrote about his adventure trips, including his travels to Africa. With a degree in health and physical education from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Chau had worked in South Africa and a refugee camp in Northern Iraq (Kurdistan), according to his LinkedIn account.
He helped to run a Burmese refugee soccer outreach programme in Tulsa. In June 2014, he went to Kurdistan to run soccer clinics, coaching seminars, and a tournament for Syrian refugee children and local Kurdish youth.
In a 2014 interview to The Outbound Collective, Chau said: “I definitely love camping, hiking, climbing, and fishing. I love to explore, so whether it’s trekking through dense old growth forests near the Chilliwack River, finding a rumoured waterfall in the jungles of the Andamans, or just wandering around a city to get a feel for the vibes, I’m an explorer at heart.”
Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry on Thursday said Chau had not informed the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) regarding his stay in Andaman. The ministry also said that he appeared to be more of an adventure sports enthusiast than an evangelist.
Ministry officials said Chau had not informed the police or taken the forest department’s permission before going to the North Sentinel Island. According to them, two fishermen were killed by the Sentinelese in 2006.
“We can’t even carry out a proper census on the island. We can only make an assessment of the number of people living there through an aerial survey,” said a senior MHA official. “Although one filter (Restricted Area Permit) was withdrawn, foreigners are still required to take permission from the forest department and the administration. The island is protected under the Protection of Aboriginal Tribes (Regulation), 1956, Act,” said the official.
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