John Allen Chau, a 27-year-old American tourist was reportedly shot dead with arrows by the Sentinelese tribe on North Sentinel Island.
He allegedly went hoping he could encourage the endangered Sentinelese tribe to convert to Christianity. Chau asked a local friend, an electronic engineer, to get a boat and find several fishermen and a water sports expert to help
They used “a wooden boat fitted with motors to travel to the island on November 15 and Chau used a canoe to reach the shore of the island. Chau returned later that day with arrow injuries. On November 16, the Sentinelese tribespeople broke his canoe. He came back to the boat swimming.
He did it again and did not come back on the 17th; the fishermen later saw the Sentinelese tribespeople dragging his body around.
Jatin Narwal, Superintendent of Police at Port Blair believed the traveler’s main aim was to meet the tribe.
Seven fishermen have been arrested for illegally ferrying Chau to the island. Because contact with the Sentinelese tribe is forbidden, Chau’s killers cannot be held accountable.
His friend called him a martyr for the Christian faith, “died out of love for these people to bring the good news of Jesus Christ.”
The Sentinelese tribe
The group’s international director, Stephen Corry, called the incident a “tragedy” that “should never have been allowed to happen”.
“The Sentinelese have shown again and again that they want to be left alone, and their wishes should be respected,” he said.
“The British colonial occupation of the Andaman Islands decimated the tribes living there, wiping out thousands of tribespeople, and only a fraction of the original population now survive. So the Sentinelese fear of outsiders is very understandable.”
The two endangered aboriginal Andaman tribes – the Jarawa and the Sentinelese – are hunter-gatherers, and contact with the outside world would put them at risk of contracting disease.
The Sentinelese are particularly vulnerable: their complete isolation means they are likely to have no immunity to even common illnesses such as flu and measles.
“It’s not impossible that the Sentinelese have just been infected by deadly pathogens to which they have no immunity, with the potential to wipe out the entire Sentinelese tribe,” said Mr Corry.
Groups have also voiced concern about the Jarawa – a tribe that has some contact with the outside world, including a road that cuts through their territory that is used by some tourists for “safari” trips.