Tribe kills US tourist on remote Indian island barred to outsiders

Police say victim was illegally ferried by fishermen to North Sentinel Island

A file photograph from the coast line of South Andaman Island near Port Blair, capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Photograph: DESHA-KALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images

A file photograph from the coast line of South Andaman Island near Port Blair, capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Photograph: DESHA-KALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images

 

Hunter-gatherers isolated from the outside world have killed a visitor to one of the islands in India’s remote Andaman and Nicobar chain.

The North Sentinel Island, off-bounds to visitors, is home to the Sentinelese, who killed the American, identified as John Allen Chau, after he was illegally ferried there by fishermen, police officals said.

One of the police sources said Mr Chau, who had made previous visits to the islands, had a strong desire to meet the Sentinelese.

Mr Chau hired a fishing dinghy and, aided by the fishermen, reached the vicinity of the island on November 16th, before transferring to a canoe, the official said.

His body, spotted the following day by the fishermen on their return, has not yet been retrieved, the official added, although the fishermen who took him there have been arrested.

“A murder case has been registered,” one of the officials told Reuters. Police have opened an investigation, Deepak Yadav, a police official in the island chain in the Bay of Bengal, said in a statement late on Tuesday.

Visits to the island are heavily restricted by the government. The Sentinelese people live on their own small forested island and are known to resist all contact with outsiders, often attacking anyone who comes near.

It is among the Andaman and Nicobar Islands at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.

Shiv Viswanathan, a social scientist and a professor at Jindal Global Law School, said: “The exact population of the tribe is not known, but it is declining. The government has to protect them.”

Poachers are known to fish illegally in the waters around the island, catching turtles and diving for lobsters and sea cucumbers.

Tribespeople killed two Indian fishermen in 2006 when their boat broke loose and drifted on to the shore. – PA, Reuters