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North Sentinel is an island in the Andaman Sea inhabited by an isolated tribe, the Sentinelese, whose members are very hostile towards anything that comes from "outside" world. Indian government regulations prohibit any type of interaction with this tribe because of its hostility and in order to maintain their way of life and protect them from modern illnesses because they lack immunity.
John Allen Chau, an American citizen, was supposedly warned not to set foot on North Sentinel but he pushed ahead and arrived on the island only to be killed by its inhabitants. The Indian authorities stated that Mr. Chau had been shot with bows and arrows by tribesmen when he got on shore and that fishermen who helped take Mr. Chau to North Sentinel had seen tribesmen dragging his body on the beach.
It was a “misplaced adventure,’’ said Dependra Pathak, the police chief in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, according to New York Times. “He certainly knew it was off limits.’’ Mr. Pathak said Mr. Chau, believed to be 26 or 27 and from Washington State, may have been trying to convert the islanders to Christianity. Right before he left in his kayak, Mr. Chau gave the fishermen a long note in case he did not come back. In it, police officials said, he had written that Jesus had bestowed him with the strength to go to the most forbidden places on Earth.
John Allen Chau is not the first person to become victim of the Sentinelese after setting foot on their island. The tribesmen killed two people who had been fishing illegally in the waters surrounding the island in 2006, after their boat drifted ashore. The Sentinels also presented their hostility in 2004, when they fired arrows at a helicopter sent to check on them after tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
In the second half of the 20th century, expeditions visited the North Sentinel Island several times in order to bring gifts to the Sentinelese but this practice stopped in 1996. The Indian Navy now enforces a buffer zone to keep visitors away from the island and protect not only them but primarily the tribesmen and their way of life. Being left alone was very important for the Sentinelese, said Stephen Corry, the director of Survival International; which is a group that protects the rights of indigenous tribal peoples around the world. “This tragedy should never have been allowed to happen,” Mr. Corry said in a statement, adding that the Indian government must protect the tribe from “further invaders.”