FILE -In this Nov. 14, 2005 file photo, clouds hang over the North Sentinel Island, in India’s southeastern Andaman and Nicobar Islands. (AP Photo/Gautam Singh, File)

India urged to abandon plans to recover body of American

A rights group that works to protect tribal people has urged Indian authorities to abandon efforts to recover the body of the American man.

A rights group that works to protect tribal people has urged Indian authorities to abandon efforts to recover the body of an American who was killed by inhabitants of an island where outsiders are effectively forbidden by Indian law.

The group, Survival International, said the islanders could be exposed to deadly diseases if rescuers set foot on North Sentinel Island, where John Allen Chau was killed earlier this month. Chau travelled to the island by paying fishermen to smuggle him. The fishermen told authorities they saw the Sentinelese bury Chau’s body on the beach.

Notes that Chau left behind say he wanted to bring Christianity to the islanders. Indian officials have travelled repeatedly in recent days near the remote island but have not set foot on it.

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. Almost nothing is known of their lives, except that they attack outsiders with spears or bows and arrows.

Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry, said in a statement Monday that any efforts to recover the body would be “incredibly dangerous” for both Indian officials and the Sentinelese, who face being wiped out if any outside diseases are introduced.

“The risk of a deadly epidemic of flu, measles or other outside disease is very real, and increases with every such contact. Such efforts in similar cases in the past have ended with the Sentinelese attempting to defend their island by force,” Corry said.

He said the body of Chau “should be left alone as should be the Sentinelese.”

Read more: India cautious as it looks to recover American body

He was critical of Indian’s relaxation of controls over visitors to such islands.

“The weakening of the restrictions on visiting the islands must be revoked, and the exclusion zone around the island properly enforced,” he said.

He said the islanders should get the chance to determine their own fate.

“All uncontacted tribal peoples face catastrophe unless their land is protected,” he said.

An Indian police official earlier said they do not want to disturb the islanders’ existence.

“They are a treasure,” said Dependera Pathak, director-general of police on the Andaman and Nicobar island groups. “We cannot go and force our way in. We don’t want to harm them.”

There has been no significant contact with the Sentinelese for generations. Anthropologists used to occasionally drop off gifts of coconuts and bananas, but even those visits were stopped years ago.

Indian officials said earlier that they were consulting anthropologists to see how they can approach with a friendly gesture. They watched the Sentinelese from a distance in recent days. On Saturday the tribesmen were armed with spears and bows and arrows, but did not attempt to shoot them at the authorities.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Map locates North Sentinel Island, India, where an American was believed killed by isolated tribe.

Just Posted

Sailings filling up on Northern Sea Wolf

There is a strong demand for the service

New ownership group presents Mount Timothy Resort plans

‘More activity and more people on the hill means more fun’

Thunderstorms in forecast for much of Cariboo Chilcotin

Special weather statements, concerns of flash flooding, for southern B.C. regions

Two Nuxalk artists awarded YVR Art Foundation scholarships

Several Nuxalk artists have won the award, some more than once

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Most Read