Home ministry says killed US citizen John Chau wasn't an evangelist, violated local laws to reach North Sentinel Island

New Delhi: An American national, who was killed allegedly by members of a protected tribe in the Andamans, appeared to be more of an adventure sports enthusiast rather than an evangelist and violated local laws to reach the highly-restricted island, officials said Thursday.

John Allen Chau, 27, neither informed the police as is required under the law nor did he take permission from the forest department and the local administration before reaching the North Sentinel Island, where two fishermen were also killed in 2006 by the Sentinelese tribals who are fiercely against any contact with outsiders, they said.

"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.
Interestingly, the North Sentinel Island is one of 29 islands in Andamans where till June foreigners had to take special permission — the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) — before being allowed to visit them.

US citizen John Chau, who was killed in Andaman. Image courtesy: Andaman and Nicobar Police

US citizen John Chau, who was killed in Andaman. Image courtesy: Andaman and Nicobar Police

"Even though one filter (RAP) was withdrawn, any foreigner is required to take permission from the forest department and the administration of the island is protected under two other acts — protection of aboriginal people and forest acts," the official said.

Asked whether the government may consider to reimpose the RAP in the North Sentinel Island in the wake of this incident, the official said as of now there is no such plan and any decision can be taken only after "due diligence".

In a press release issued late Wednesday evening, Andaman and Nicobar Police chief Dependra Pathak said Chau had enlisted the help of local electronics engineer Alexander and a water sports service provider and hired five fishermen to evade the patrolling teams of police, Coast Guard and Navy to approach the island.

For this, the local fishermen were paid around Rs 25,000 by Chau.

"They started on 14 November around 8 pm for the North Sentinel Island and reached there by midnight. The next day, Chau moved to shore using his kayak which he got towed with the fishing boat. After dropping him, the fishermen fixed their timings and place to meet each other between the shoreline and their high sea fishing area.

"In the morning of 17 November, they saw a dead person being buried at the shore which from the silhouette of the body, clothing and circumstances appeared to be the body of Chau," the release said clearly defining the circumstances leading to Chau's death, almost five days after the incident.

Subsequently, they returned to Port Blair and narrated the incident to Alexander and handed him the 13 pages of the journal written by Chau.

Alexander informed Bobby Parks, a friend of Chau in the US, who in turn informed his mother. His mother informed the US consulate which in turn alerted the police on 19 November.

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Updated Date: Nov 22, 2018 20:11:12 IST