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'Extremely harmful' to retrieve missionary's physique from North Sentinel

30 November 2018

John Chau was killed in a hail of arrows nearly two weeks ago as he went ashore on North Sentinel island in the Indian Ocean, a fisherman who dropped him off nearby told police. The next day he chose to break the law and again go to the island, where this time he was killed by the Sentinelese. "His high-pitched voice still lingers in my head". While Chau's body has not been found yet, the police, with the help of the local fishermen have been able to map the area where his body may have been buried.

And while its residents have no contact with the outside world, they aren't too far from other civilizations.

"I DON'T WANT TO DIE", wrote Chau, who appeared to want to bring Christianity to the islanders. "No I don't think so".

The body of the American missionary reportedly killed on a remote Indian island earlier this month should be left on the island due to the dangers that both the tribe and Indian authorities would face in another encounter, Survival International said.

Portman documented his run-ins with the people of North Sentinel Island in his 1899 book "A History Of Our Relations With The Andamanese", which you can read in full here.

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The three fishermen also told the police that the Sentinelese after shooting at Chau on November 16 (the arrow hit Chau's Bible when he went to the island the first time) destroyed his Kayak, because of which he had to swim around 300m-400m to reach the boat where the fishermen were waiting.

But Hanson declared herself a full-throated champion of North Sentinel Island's protected status within Indian territory Tuesday. The team returned later Friday. "He had also mentioned that god had sheltered them from the Coast Guard", the DGP added. "Sentinelese are a peace-loving people".

Director-general of police on the Andaman and Nicobar island groups, Dependera Pathak, said the Sentinelese people "are a treasure".

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 tribal people with the message of Jesus Christ. The Andamans once had other similar groups, long-ago migrants from Africa and Southeast Asia who settled in the island chain, but their numbers have dwindled dramatically over the past century as a result of disease, intermarriage and migration.

But the next morning, the men saw tribespeople dragging Chau's body across the beach and then burying him in the sand.

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Seven persons - six fishermen and Chau's contact in Port Blair, Alexender - arrested in the case were being quizzed regularly, Pathak said.

Giving details of the police action so far, the DGP said the probe team had made three trips to the island to "reconstruct the moment-to-moment movement of the United States national on the prohibited island". "A simple thing like flu can kill them", he said.

Scholars believe the Sentinelese are descendants of Africans who migrated to the area about 50,000 years ago and survive on the small, forested island by hunting, fishing and gathering wild plants. It was not his first time in the region: he had visited the Andaman islands in 2015 and 2016.

The latest attempt to get close to the island was abandoned Saturday after police, who had stopped their boat about 400 meters from the shore, spotted the Sentinelese standing armed with bows and arrows.

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'Extremely harmful' to retrieve missionary's physique from North Sentinel