Indian authorities are reportedly struggling to devise a plan to remove the body of an American Christian missionary from remote North Sentinel Island after he was killed by members of a secluded and endangered tribe. 

John Allen Chau, 27, was reportedly shot by bow and arrow on the island in the Andaman Sea last week. Fishermen who violated Indian law by ferrying him to the island told officials they saw tribespeople bury his body on the beach.

The same laws which prohibit outsiders from reaching the island are hampering efforts to reach Chau’s body, officials say. Authorities are reportedly working with legal scholars and anthropologists to determine how best to retrieve Chau’s body.

The Sentinelese people, estimated to number between 50 and 150, have long rejected contact with the outside world. The island falls under Indian jurisdiction, but laws are in place to keep others from meddling with the tribe.

Outside of the tribe’s displays of aggression towards interlopers, there are fears that the Sentinelese people do not have the disease immunities shared by others in the outside world. It is speculated that contact with outsiders could decimate the tribe’s numbers through illness

India’s hands-off policy also means it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prosecute those responsible for Chau’s death. However, Chau’s family issued a statement saying they would rather not seek any sort of punitive justice in the first place.

“He loved God, life, and helping those in need, and had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people,” his family said in a post uploaded to his Instagram account.

“We forgive those reportedly responsible for his death.”

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John Allen Chau

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Retrieval efforts are ongoing.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Image: Instagram