Indian island police struggle to get body of American Christian Missionary
NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian authorities were struggling Thursday to figure out how to recover the body of an American killed after wading ashore on an isolated island cut off from the modern world.
John Allen Chau was killed last week by North Sentinel islanders who apparently shot him with arrows and then buried his body on the beach, police say.
But even officials don’t travel to North Sentinel, where people live as their ancestors did thousands of years ago, and where outsiders are seen with suspicion and attacked.
“It’s a difficult proposition,” said Dependera Pathak, director-general of police on India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where North Sentinel is located. “We have to see what is possible, taking utmost care of the sensitivity of the group and the legal requirements.”
Police are consulting anthropologists, tribal welfare experts and scholars to figure out a way to recover the body, he said.
While visits to the island are heavily restricted, Chau paid fishermen last week to take him near North Sentinel, using a kayak to paddle to shore and bringing gifts including a football and fish.
It was “a foolish adventure,” said P.C. Joshi, an anthropology professor at Delhi University who has studied the islands. “He invited that aggression.”
Joshi noted that the visit not only risked Chau’s life, but also the lives of islanders who have little resistance to many diseases.
“They are not immune to anything. A simple thing like flu can kill them,” he said.
On his first day Chau interacted with some tribesmen — who survive by hunting, fishing and collecting wild plants — until they became angry and shot an arrow at him. The 26-year-old self-styled adventurer and Christian missionary then swam back to the fishermen’s boat waiting at a safe distance.
That night, he wrote about his visit and left his notes with the fishermen. He returned to North Sentinel the next day, Nov. 16.
What happened then isn’t known, but on the morning of the following day, the fishermen watched from the boat as tribesmen dragged Chau’s body along the beach and buried his remains.
Pathak said seven people have been arrested for helping Chau, including five fishermen, a friend of Chau’s and a local tourist guide.
Chau was apparently shot and killed by arrows, but the cause of death can’t be confirmed until his body is recovered, Pathak said.
NEWS SOURCE: Associated Press
FULL STORY: www.apnews.com