As authorities formulate a plan to retrieve the body of the American evangelist killed by North Sentinel Islanders, a local police chief has recalled the horrific fate of the remote tribe’s two previous victims.
Two fishermen who strayed onto the island in 2006, were killed and their bodies were never recovered. Dependra Pathak, the director general of police in Andaman and Nicobar, told the AFP news agency their bodies were hooked to stakes and displayed like ‘scarecrows’.
An Indian coast guard helicopter sent to retrieve the bodies was repelled by a volley of arrows from the community.
“We are studying the 2006 case,” Mr Pathak told AFP.
“We are asking anthropologists what they do when they kill an outsider.”
It comes after 26-year-old John Chau was killed earlier this month by a tribe of hunter-gatherers, who he was reportedly trying to convert to Christianity.
The North Sentinel Island, which is out of bounds for visitors, is home to the Sentinelese community, believed to be the last pre-Neolithic tribe in the world.
Mr Chau was shot and killed with bow and arrows after being illegally ferried to the island by fishermen. He was then dragged across a beach and buried in the sand, police say.
Police director Pathak said a Coast Guard vessel with police and experts on the tribe had gone to scout the island and work out a plan to recover Mr Chau’s body.
Mr Chau had made two or three trips to the island by canoe from November 15, making contact with the tribe but returning to his boat.
He told the fishermen one day later that he would not come back from the island and instructed them to return home and pass on some handwritten notes he had made to a friend.
The next morning they saw his body being dragged across a beach and buried in the sand.
“This was a misplaced adventure in a highly protected area,” Mr Pathak said.