New Delhi: There was no lapse in coastal security in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands that an American man, who was killed by an endangered tribe in the archipelago, could have exploited to reach the North Sentinel Island, the Navy said on Monday.
Allen Chau, 26, was killed by arrows fired by the Sentinelese hunter-gatherers last month after he illegally went ashore in an apparent attempt to convert the tribe to Christianity. The tribe whose population is believed to be about 150 aggressively reject contact with the outside world.
“I don’t see this as failure of coastal security construct. He came as tourist in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and had requisite permissions to be there. It’s being investigated by the ANC (Andaman and Nicobar Command) police,” Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba told reporters on Monday.
The Home Ministry recently lifted the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) from 29 islands, including North Sentinel Island. The circular issued in June this year said that foreigners will also be allowed to visit 11 uninhabitable islands notified by Andaman and Nicobar Islands for day visits.
“We lifted this restriction but no one visits this area. Only the anthropologists visit, who study about these tribals,” a senior official had said.
Two American citizens had flown into Port Blair and met Mr Chau between November 6 and 10, egging him on, it is suspected, to go to the North Sentinel Island. Police are now investigating the two Americans — Bobbie, a woman in her 50s, and Christian, a youth in his 20s — and members of the same church as Mr Chau, the All Nations Church headquartered in Kansas City.
In his journal recovered after his death, Mr Chau wrote in a postscript, “Please send all pages of the journal entries to Bobby and tell him forward the current update to All Nations.”
According to sources, the two Americans flew out on November 10 and Mr Chau was supposed to sail to North Sentinel a day later. He had to postpone his final journey to November 14 because of bad weather.
Mr Chau took with him footballs for children, fishing lines for the men and safety pins — all this, apparently on the advice of a fellow evangelist who had contacted tribes in the Amazon forests and met with some success, sources added.
Attempts to find his body on the Sentinelese island have failed, with the tribe showing hostility to any approaching search teams. Conservationists have requested the authorities to call off the search for the body.