Mystery Death on Mystery Island: The h-arrow-ing end of John Allen Chau

FPJ Web Desk
Sentinelese tribe , Sentinelese island, John Allen Chau

It has been a few days since the news that American national John Allen Chau was allegedly killed by the reclusive Sentinelese tribe on North Sentinel Island in the Andamans. Yet, the piercing details emerging as each day passes by will ensure that the death will remain alive in public memory for a while.

Few hours before he was killed by members of a protected tribe in the Andamans, American national John Allen Chau survived an arrow attack by a short-statured tribesman as it hit the Bible he was carrying, his diary noting has revealed, according to PTI.

Hand-written notes of Chau reveal motive

The hand-written notes of Chau, who was killed when he tried to enter the prohibited North Sentinel Island, also mention that he wanted to acquaint the tribespeople with the message of Jesus Christ. Director General of Police, Andaman and Nicobar, Dependra Pathak, told PTI on Friday that Chau “appeared to be a staunch believer” (of Christianity). The 13-page notes of Chau, handed over to the police by his local contact Alexander who has been arrested in connection with his killing, have details of his trip to the island without permission.

The notes written in incongruent sentences in English throw light on his misadventure. The DGP said that as part of the probe, a police team on Friday made a trip towards the Sentinel island with Alexander, whom they have taken on remand.

Chau carried abdominal pad, chest shield, vitamins

The American national carried an abdominal pad, a chest shield, vitamins and a drug to aid clot blood as safety precautions, officials were quoted as saying by Hindustan Times. Chau also carried fishing hooks, towels and rubber tubes as gifts, as per diary his notes, the report added.

Sentinelese tribe , Sentinelese island, John Allen Chau

In this October 2018 photo, American adventurer John Allen Chau, right, stands for a photograph with Founder of Ubuntu Football Academy Casey Prince, 39, in Cape Town, South Africa, days before he left for in a remote Indian island of North Sentinel Island, where he was killed. Pic/AP/PTI

Death by arrows still a theory

Chau was killed possibly with arrows. But Andaman Police PRO Jatin Narwal had said on Wednesday that it was a subject of probe. He had maintained that the death was caused by traditional weapons, adding that it cannot be specifically said whether he was killed by arrows or spears. The DGP said that on November 17 the fishermen, who had taken Chau near the island, 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 the American national.

Illegal access but God’s shelter

The access to North Sentinel Island and its buffer zone is strictly restricted under the Protection of Aboriginal Tribe (Regulation), 1956 and Regulations under Indian Forest Act, 1927. The US national, who according to the DGP, had paid around Rs 25,000 to local fishermen to take him to the island, wrote that god sheltered him from the coast guards and the Navy. Chau in his notes dated November 16 narrated that around 4.30 am, standing near the shore of the Sentinel island he saw two persons as the sun rose.

He told them that he too has two legs. He further recounted that he was inches from an “unusual guy about 5 ft 5” and as they got bunched together he gave them some gifts. But, the short-statured man “shot me with an arrow that directly hit the Bible which I was holding near my chest”, he wrote.

Satan’s last stronghold?

A night before death, having already survived the arrow attack, Chau had written in his diary, “Lord, is this island Satan’s last stronghold where none have heard or even had the chance to hear your name?” The pages accessed by The Washington Post have details of the last days of Chau’s journey. On his boat journey to the island, he wrote in his diary, “God Himself was hiding us from the Coast Guard and many patrols.”

Sentinelese tribe , Sentinelese island, John Allen Chau

Photo Credit: John Allen Chau (Facebook)

Body yet to be recovered

According to The News Minute, in a press note released on Friday, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands police they undertook a second expedition to the North Sentinel Island for Chau’s body. “Moving further into the investigation of the killing of John Allen Chau, 27 years, an American citizen, a joint team consisting of officials from the police department, forest department, tribal welfare department and the Coast Guard conducted a second round of expedition to the North Sentinel Island. The team also took two alleged accused who are on police custody,” the police note said.

Past incidents of killing on the island

The Sentinelese people are among the tribes that survived the tsunami of 2004 without any help from the outside world. For the 2011 Census, enumerators could locate only 15 Sentinelese people – 12 men and three women. However, their numbers could be anything between 40 and 400, according to experts.

The natives of the Sentinel Island have past record of attacking visitors to their island. In 2006, two Indian fishermen, who had moored their boat near North Sentinel to sleep after poaching in the waters around the island, were killed when their boat broke loose and drifted onto the shore.

(With PTI inputs)