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North Sentinel Island: Mystery

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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

Where is the North Sentinel Island?

  1. South Sentinel Island and North Sentinel Island are both parts of the Indian archipelago known as the Andaman Islands, which is located in the Bay of Bengal.
  2. The island is a part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory of India, namely the South Andaman administrative district.
  3. The Island is inhabited by a group of indigenous tribes called the Sentinelese.
  4. The Sentinelese, an indigenous people who live in voluntary seclusion and have defended their protected isolation from the outside world, frequently by force, call this region home.
  5. Between 50 to 100 people are living on North Sentinel Island.

Geographical Introduction of North Sentinel Island

  1. Its area is approximately 59.67 km2, and its shape is roughly square.
  2. North Sentinel lacks natural harbours and is bordered by coral reefs.
  3. The Island is heavily forested, excluding the shore.
  4. The island was raised by one to two meters due to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, which tilted the tectonic plate beneath it.

Vegetation and Biological Organisms

There is no indication of cultivation on North Sentinel Island, according to surveys. The locals appear to be hunter-gatherers, obtaining their sustenance from fishing, hunting, and gathering the island’s wild vegetation. The island is mostly covered in a moist broadleaf tropical and subtropical forest. The precise makeup of the terrestrial flora and fauna is still unknown due to a lack of surveys.

Who are the Sentinelese?

  1. On North Sentinel Island in the Andamans, there is a pre-Neolithic Negrito tribe known as the Sentinelese.
  2. The Indian government has classified Sentinelese as one of its Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  3. Sentinelese people reside in slanted-roof lean-to shelters.
  4. In the comparatively shallow, calm seas inside the reef, they construct small, narrow outrigger canoes that they steer with long sticks. The Sentinelese fish and gather crabs from those canoes.
  5. They carry knives, spears, bows, and arrows to keep intruders away. They are also used to support their lifestyle as hunter-gatherers.

History Related to North Sentinel Island

  1. The Nineveh, an Indian trade ship, struck aground on the reef. Twenty crew members and 86 passengers made it to the beach by swimming and splashing. After three days of staying on the island’s beach, the ship’s crew members were ambushed.
  2. A prisoner attempted to escape the Great Andaman Island Penal Colony in 1896 on a raft that washed up on North Sentinel Island. A few days later, his body was discovered by a colonial search party, his throat had been slit, and he had numerous arrow wounds.
  3. In the most recent incident, American adventure blogger and evangelical missionary John Allen Chau was slain in 2018 while attempting to visit the island illegally.

Why is Sentinelese Isolated?

  1. After the British proclaimed Sentinel Island to be a part of their colonial possessions, a young Royal Navy commander
  2. Maurice Vidal Portman took over command of the Andaman and Nicobar colonies.
  3. Portman, an anthropologist, landed on North Sentinel Island in 1880 alongside a group of naval officers.
  4. The tribe members hid in places further inland when they became aware of the undesirable guests.
  5. The group led by Portman captured an elderly couple and four kids and took them to Port Blair.
  6. The elderly couple passed away in Port Blair shortly after they fell ill upon their arrival at Port Blair. 
  7. Subsequently,  the four unwell kids were returned to North Sentinel’s beach.
  8. The tribe is kept in isolation to prevent “mainland” infectious diseases against which the residual indigenous society (presumably) lacks acquired immunity.

Laws for Isolation 

  1. Travel to the island and any approach closer than five nautical miles are prohibited by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Act of 1956. (9.26 km).
  2. The Government of India protects this island; as a result, the Indian Navy patrols the area.
  3. Due to the isolation, the Sentinelese population is surveyed by taking distant photos of the islanders.

Anthropological Visits to North Sentinel Island

A team of Indian anthropologists initially got in touch with them in 1991. In 1967, TN Pandit became the first anthropologist to set foot on the remote Andaman island of North Sentinel. Pandit visited their remote island village over several years while serving as the regional head for India’s Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

Anthropological Survey of India

  1. Under the Ministry of Culture, The Anthropological Survey of India is a renowned research institution that specialises in both physical anthropology and cultural anthropology.
  2. In 1945, this group was founded. Its corporate headquarters is in Kolkata.  T there are branches in Port Blair, Shillong, Dehradun, Udaipur, Nagpur, and Mysore, as well as two regional stations in Jagdalpur and Ranchi.
  3. It is regarded as the most advanced training and research facility for anthropology and related fields.

Recent Developments in North Sentinel Island

The ANSI claims that the “right of the people to the island is non-negotiable” in a policy statement that was released nearly two years after American John Allen Chau was purportedly assassinated on the island by the Sentinelese. This first comprehensive policy draught for the Sentinelese island was created at the Andaman and Nicobar Administration’s request.

Guidelines of Anthropological Survey of India

  1. The inhabitants and the Sentinelese Tribe are suffering as a result of the utilisation of the northern sentinel island of Andaman to further commercial and strategic interests.
  2. The rights of the inhabitants of this island cannot be disputed, are not negotiable, and cannot be violated. These are the people’s rights, and the state must treat them as such and protect them. Their island shouldn’t be considered to have any commercial advantages.
  3. The construction of a knowledge base on the Sentinelese tribes is also emphasised in this text. Anthropologists advise the “study of a culture” from a distance in such a case since “on-the-spot study” is not feasible for the tribal population.


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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

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