Conservationists have requested the authorities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to call off the search for the body of an American man, who was killed by the endangered Sentinelese tribe after he trespassed on their island. A group of experts including anthropologist and researchers who have been studying the Sentinelese tribe expressed concern that search teams going to the island in south Andaman may escalate the tension.
"The media has reported nervous stand-offs between the teams seeking to land on North Sentinel to get the body and members of the Sentinelese community who clearly find these incursions unwelcome," the team of experts said in a statement. "Continuing with the efforts could well lead to further violence and completely unwarranted loss of life," said the statement whose signatories include anthropologist and authors Pankaj Sekhsaria, Visvajit Pandya, Manish Chandi, Madhusree Mukherjee and Sita Venkateswar.
Indian officials have traveled repeatedly in recent days near the remote island where an American missionary was killed by people who have long resisted the outside world. But they have not set foot onto North Sentinel Island since the incident. John Allen Chau was killed by islanders in mid-November after paying fishermen to take him to the island, where outsiders are effectively forbidden by Indian law. The fishermen informed authorities that they saw the Sentinelese bury Chau’s body on the beach.
Earlier, Indian officers had a long-distance face-off with the tribe in their latest bid to locate the body of 27-year-old John Allen Chau on the remote island of Andaman and Nicobar, police said on Sunday.
The police team, who took a boat just off Indian-owned North Sentinel island on Saturday, spotted men from the Sentinelese tribe on the beach where John Allen Chau was last seen, the region's police chief Dependra Pathak had informed.
Using binoculars, officers -- in a police boat about 400 metres from the shore -- saw the men armed with bows and arrows, the weapons reportedly used by the isolated tribe.
The death of the 27-year-old on November 17 has cast a new spotlight on efforts to protect one of the world's last "uncontacted" tribes whose language and customs remain a mystery to outsiders.