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Andaman Police to summon American nationals over Missionary John Allen Chau’s death, say he was brainwashed to go to Sentinel Islands

The Sentinel Island of Andaman and Nicobar archipelago is inhabited by a tribal community who scorn contact with the outside world. Under the Protection of Aboriginal Tribe (Regulation), 1956 and Regulations under Indian Forest Act, 1927, travelling or accessing the Island is strictly prohibited.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands police is soon going to issue summons to two US nationals via the Ministry of External Affairs over the investigation into the death of John Allen Chau, an alleged Christian Missionary who was killed by the arrows of the Sentinelese tribesmen while venturing near the restricted Island.

As per a report by News 18, two US nationals, Colorado-based Bobby Par and a Tennessee-based person named Christian are soon to be summoned by the Andaman police to join the investigation. Both Par and Christian are reportedly members of a missionary organisation named All Nations Church.

“We will soon send a summon letter to Bobbie Par and Christian to join us in the ongoing probe in American tourist John Allen Chau death case,” Dependra Pathak, DGP of Andaman and Nicobar Islands was quoted by News18.

John Allen Chau was reluctant to visit Sentinelese Islands, but he was coerced

Pathak has further stated that the police department is currently preparing a letter under the norms of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which will be routed through the Ministry of External Affairs to record the statements of the two Americans.

He added that the statements of Par and Christian are very crucial in the investigation as they both were there in Andaman before John Allen Chau left for Sentinel Islands. They had left Port Blair on November 10, 2018, a few days before Chau travelled to Sentinel Islands and got killed. The report states that local fishermen and some of the acquaintances of Chau have asserted that Chau was indecisive and hesitant to visit the Island.

He also stated that circumstantial evidence suggests that Chau was initially reluctant to visit Sentinel Islands and he was brainwashed to go there. Pathak added that even as travel restrictions are in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are many ways to examine a person under MLAT and all options will be explored.

The Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) is an agreement between two or more countries for the purpose of gathering and exchanging information to comply with public or criminal law.

Chau’s father, speaking to The Guardian in 2019, had also stated that his son was an innocent child “who died from an extreme vision of Christianity taken to its logical conclusion.” He had blamed the Christian Missionary organisation for his son’s death.

In his journals and social media entries, John Allen Chau had described the Sentinel Island as “Satan’s last stronghold” and had insinuated that it was his life’s mission to convert those tribals to Christianity.

The death of John Allen Chau in the Sentinel Islands

The Sentinel Islands of Andaman and Nicobar are inhabited by a tribal community who scorn contact with the outside world. Under the Protection of Aboriginal Tribe (Regulation), 1956 and Regulations under Indian Forest Act, 1927, travelling or accessing the Island is strictly prohibited.

John Allen Chau, a missionary from the All Nations Church, was in India under a tourist visa. He had illegally travelled to the Sentinel Islands, well aware of the Island’s protected status, with a mission to convert the Sentinelese tribesmen into Christianity. On November 17, 2018, some fishermen had seen Chau’s body being dragged and buried by the Sentinelese tribesmen on the Island’s shores.

Missionary activities and risks to tribal populations

The incident had grabbed international eyeballs. While some elements had tried to give a clean chit to Chau and the Missionary organisations seeking to convert secluded tribes, many groups had pointed out that such activities may end up obliterating the tribal populations by diseases as the tribes living away from civilisation usually do not have immunity against modern world infectious diseases. The blatant attempt to convert tribals who had preferred a secluded life away from the modern world for centuries were also criticised by many on social media.

It is notable here that the All Nations Church had glorified Chau’s so-called efforts to expand the ‘kingdom of Jesus’ in their obituary. “John was a gracious and sensitive ambassador of Jesus Christ who wanted others to know of God’s great love for them. We remember too, how throughout church history, the privilege of sharing the gospel has often involved great cost. We pray that John’s sacrificial efforts will bear eternal fruit in due season,” the head of All Nations Church Mary Ho had said on Chau’s death.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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