Port Blair: Few hours before he was killed by members of a protected tribe in the Andamans, American national John Allen Chau survived an arrow attack by a short-statured tribesman as it hit the Bible he was carrying, his diary noting has revealed.
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 tribes people with the message of Jesus Christ. Director General of Police, Andaman and Nicobar, Dependra Pathak, told PTI on Friday that Chau “appeared to be a staunch believer” (of Christianity).
The 13-page notes of Chau, handed over to the police by his local contact Alexander who has been arrested in connection with his killing, have details of his trip to the island without permission. The notes written in incongruent sentences in English throw light on his misadventure. The DGP said that as part of the probe, a police team on Friday made a trip towards the Sentinel island with Alexander, whom they have taken on remand.
Chau was killed possibly with arrows. But Andaman Police PRO Jatin Narwal had said on Wednesday that it was a subject of probe. He had maintained that the death was caused by traditional weapons, adding that it cannot be specifically said whether he was killed by arrows or spears. The DGP said that on November 17 the fishermen, who had taken Chau near the island, saw a dead person being buried at the shore which from the silhouette of the body, clothing and circumstances appeared to be the body of the American national.
The access to North Sentinel Island and its buffer zone is strictly restricted under the Protection of Aboriginal Tribe (Regulation), 1956 and Regulations under Indian Forest Act, 1927. The US national, who according to the DGP, had paid around Rs 25,000 to local fishermen to take him to the island, wrote that god sheltered him from the coast guards and the Navy.
Chau in his notes dated November 16 narrated that around 4.30 am, standing near the shore of the Sentinel island he saw two persons as the sun rose. He told them that he too has two legs. He further recounted that he was inches from an “unusual guy about 5 ft 5” and as they got bunched together he gave them some gifts. But, the short-statured man “shot me with an arrow that directly hit the Bible which I was holding near my chest”, he wrote.
The Sentinelese people are among the tribes that survived the tsunami of 2004 without any help from the outside world. For the 2011 Census, enumerators could locate only 15 Sentinelese people – 12 men and three women. However, their numbers could be anything between 40 and 400, according to experts. The natives of the Sentinel island have past record of attacking visitors to their island. In 2006, two Indian fishermen, who had moored their boat near North Sentinel to sleep after poaching in the waters around the island, were killed when their boat broke loose and drifted onto the shore.