John Allen Chau, a Christian missionary who had reportedly expressed ‘strong desire’ to meet the hostile Sentinelese people and ‘preach Christianity’ to them, was killed by them. According to reports, Chau was interested in converting the Sentinelese people.
Seven fishermen who took Chau to the island have been arrested under the Prohibition of Aboriginal Tribes Act and various sections of the IPC. The fishermen said that they last saw Chau being attacked with bows and arrows after he landed on the island on 16th November. They further said that as they sailed away from the island, they saw Chau’s body half-buried in the sand.
The Sentinelese people, whose population was estimated to be 40 in 2011 census, are known to be hostile and resist contact with the outside world. Chau had tried to reach the island on 14th November but could not make it. After he was attacked by bows and arrows, he continued walking when the tribals tied a rope around his neck and dragged him.
The Indian law protects the Sentinelese people and they cannot be prosecuted. Any contact with them or entry into areas inhabited by them is illegal. In 2017, the government had clarified that the Sentinelese are identified as an “aboriginal tribe”. Recording their videos as well as uploading their videos on social media or the internet is prohibited.