Indian police put search for John Allen Chau’s body on hold

Indian officials put on hold their mission to retrieve the body of the Washington state missionary killed by tribesmen on a remote island — so as not to disturb the isolated people.

Police in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have made two boat trips to the area near the North Sentinel Island since John Allen Chau was shot and killed there with arrows Nov. 17 as he approached tribesmen to preach Christianity.

But on Monday, top government official Chetan Sanghi called a meeting with senior authorities from police, tribal welfare and forest and anthropological departments in which it was decided the search for the body would be put on hold, the BBC reported.

A boat was sent to the area Tuesday morning but “only to check the situation,” an official who attended the meeting told the outlet.

Fishermen who had helped the doomed 26-year-old reach the island for about $350 said they saw the Sentinelese drag his body off and bury it on the beach.

“In the initial days several attempts were made to find the body after the tribesmen were seen dragging it,” the unnamed official told the BBC. “We know the general direction of where it was taken, but we still don’t know where exactly it is.”

Experts alerted authorities that the search for Chau’s remains would be incredibly dangerous, as the islanders have made it clear they want to be left alone and are known for their violent attacks on strangers.

The search would be dangerous for the tribesmen too, as they have no immunity to outside diseases, meaning their entire population could easily be wiped out.

Officials heeded the warnings, saying the decision to halt the search for now was taken because the mission was “too risky” and after objections were raised from human rights groups.

In 2006, the Sentinelese killed two Indian fishermen who tried to sneak onto the island. Authorities were able to retrieve one of the bodies after several attempts. The other still remains buried there.

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