North Sentinel Island - God's Retreat.
It’s depressing to read the journal words of John Allen Chau, an American evangelist who was reported to have been killed by the tribes of North Sentinel Islands, part of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He is believed to have ventured with an ambitious plan to convert the ever-reclusive tribe, to Christianity.
Chau has expressed that the islands might be “Satan’s Last Stronghold.” I wonder what could have given him the haughtiness to make such unjustifiable comment on those who are already much closer to God. He has also stated his doubt if the inhabitants of the island have ever heard God’s name. How displeasing the thought is! What did he mean?
The tribes have been living a self-sustained life for over 30000 years. They never needed any external “help” in hearing God’s name. They must have their own way of addressing their needs to God in ways we could never comprehend. They do not need new prayer buildings or new scriptures or holy books to prove their faith. TN Pandit, the first anthropologist to enter the isolated islands, has expressed his surprise when he was told Chau was “killed” by the Sentinelese. Contrary to what the world believes, Pandit says, “the Sentinelese are not hostile; they only say, ‘leave us alone’". They never raid their neighbours but extremely protective of their territories.
Now, which part of our world is Satan’s stronghold? The unadulterated Sentinel Islands or our “cultured” continents? And what led to Chau’s killing? It’s our inability to understand their language that probably gave a stern warning, “Please stay away.”
There are also voices that would want to recover Chau’s remains from the islands. But anthropologists have warned that it’s a bad idea to venture into the islands. They fear it might destabilize the tribes' ecosystem.
By casting out Chau eternally, the tribes did not commit an evil act. They merely defended their domain and communicated in a language that we fail to understand. It’s because we have developed a sense of supremacy that entitles us to use all means, to trespass any region, plunder wealth, impose rules, and make inhabitants believe what we want them to believe. It may have worked in our cultured continents but not in the lands eternally registered in the names of the tribes, and titles are not transferable.
While I pray for Chau’s soul to rest in eternal peace, I wish the Sentinelese were given their right to live the way they want, like how it has been for years. They don’t need us. And we dare not think of any trouble to them. And certainly, the islands are not Satan’s Last Stronghold”. They are Gods’ preferred places. “Entry Restricted.”