After a 26-year-old US tourist was killed by the tribals after he illegally ventured to an off-limit island, the central government hopes that its efforts to promote Andaman and Nicobar as a major tourism hub have not gone in vain.
“We have not received any query regarding the death of this young boy from America as of now and we hope it will not impact foreigners visiting there,” a senior official in the the Ministry of Home Affairs told NDTV.
The government is planning to use these islands as a gateway to South East Asia.
Till October this year, 11,818 foreign tourists have visited the Andaman Islands. Last year, the number was 15,310. As far as domestic tourists are concerned, this year till October, 3,90,575 visited the place. Last year, 4,71,919 visited the islands.
The Home Ministry recently lifted the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) from 29 islands, including North Senitel Island, where the incident took place. The circular issued in June this year said that foreigners will also be allowed to visit 11 uninhabitable islands notified by Andaman and Nicobar Islands for day visits.
“We lifted this restriction but no one visits this area. Only the anthropologists visit, who study about these tribals,” a senior official said.
According to the official, three types of restrictions are in place to protect tribals in these areas. The first is from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the second is the Indian Forest Act and the last is the restricted area permits. “First two restrictions are in fact applicable to Indians too,” the official adds.
The officer hopes they would not have to review their decision concerning RAP after this incident.
The ministry officials said that John Allen Chau, the US tourist who died after the tribals shot him with an arrow, had not followed the rules in place for the foreigners.
According to the existing guidelines, all foreigners visiting Andaman and Nicobar Islands need to register themselves with the Foreigners Registration Office within 24 hours of their arrival.
“He did not inform authorities about his arrival too and was staying with his friends and went to the island with some fishermen,” adds an officer.
Meanwhile, the government has asked the Andaman Police to make all efforts to recover the body of John Allen Chau from North Sentinel Island.
The administration has formed a team consisting of anthropologists and tribal welfare association to draw a strategy on how to retrieve the body. “It’s a delicate matter. So keeping in mind sensitivities of tribals, we have to take a decision,” Mr Pathak told NDTV. Seven people have been arrested for giving him shelter and helping him till now.
The Andaman police have recovered the pages by written by Mr Chau. “He scribbled lot many things while on way to the island,” reveals a senior officer in the ministry.
According to him, Mr Chau forgot his diary in a fisherman’s boat who helped him to reach the island. Those pages are now in custody of the police. “He has given details as to how he planned his trip and how he engaged fishermen to help him in reaching the island,” Mr Pathak told NDTV.
In the 13 pages, Mr Chau has also given description on how he managed to hoodwink the police, navy and coastguard.
The diary entries also narrate how the tribals yelled at him and he yelled at them back. “I want to establish kingdom of God,” Mr Chau has written in one of the pages.
“He was a religious person but not a preacher. So, he didn’t go there to convert people. He was just a misguided adventurist,” the police officer.