On the 2nd of August 1981, Primrose named one cargo ship which was travelling between Bangladesh and Australia had crashed on a coral reef in the Bay of Bengal. That ship was in the Andaman (group of islands) archipelago around an island termed as “North Sentinel Island”. Ship was in unmovable condition and ships crew was not able to use their lifeboats because the sea was having high tides and waves. So, they were forced to wait for some days at same area so that they or someone can contact them anyhow. After residing there for few days, one young sailor noticed few peoples approaching near their ship. On the contrary as history tells, they were not coming to help them in any manner. Additionally, they were carrying weapons like spears, bows and arrows. Those peoples were “The Sentinelese” the public of that secret island.
Then the captain of the ship sent out an emergency message quoting “Wild men, estimate more than 50, carrying various homemade weapons are making two or three wooden boats,”. “worrying they will board us at sunset. All crew member’s lives not guaranteed”. They somehow survived as they were inside the ship and unknown in quantity to peoples of Sentinelese.
A week later, the Indian Navy sent a helicopter to rescue the crew of ship. Surprisingly, this ship named Primrose is still lying at coast and can be found near the North Sentinel Island. And here starts the story and facts behind this island prohibited to visit.
This was an unintentional yet accidental interaction with the Sentinelese. Few more such contacts between those peoples and new age humans had happened until now. Earlier few was peaceful as to understand and grow. However, it has turned in not so peaceful meet and greet in coming of ages.
In November 2018, John Allen chau, an American missionary landed in Port Blair and desired to visit the North Sentinel Island and travel and search around there to know more. But he was dedicated to mission of introducing Christianity to the Peoples of Sentinel Islands. It was a fully planned trip and he had written and learned all the details carefully in his diary.
With the help of some local fisherman, he reached the North Sentinel Island with few gifts like scissors and fishhooks. In the first attempts, the Sentinelese reacted very aggressively, and he had to return back somehow saving himself. He left the island In a hurry and ran like a sprint. Also, at the second attempt, peoples of sentinel island were not in the mood of meeting and reacted violently to the john. Sadly, in the third attempt, John Allen Chau was killed by those peoples. And all the chances and attempts were shattered and also costed a life of human.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands as a whole region in sea includes more than 300+ small and medium size islands. North, Middle & south Andaman are together called Great Andaman. These are also known as main island of Andaman. This place is crowded with most of the indigenous (native) peoples count. The original inhabitants (citizens) of the Andaman island were called “Andamanese”, who were supposedly first among the groups of peoples migrating outside from Africa Continent.
A research paper on claims that usually, the Andamanese were Hunter-gathers. They are the pre-evolution categories of human’s who does not depend no Agriculture. Instead, they rely on the Fruits, Fish, Honey & turtle eggs. The first ever known and recorded contact with these peoples was back in 1771. When John Ritchie was sent by Britishers to survey and collect info regarding these Islands. There were as many as 5 groups with around 9+ tribes in 1800’s, which has reduced to much extent as one or two are known to be in fruiting state. Rest are extinct or mixed with these tribes.
The Sentinelese is an isolated tribe of Andaman who are completely isolated and separated from Andamanese and rest of world. The Sentinelese is one of the last tribes in the world which has had very low interaction with the modern Humans and Civilization. The exact figure is impossible to predict but as guesses goes, they would be around 100 to 600 in head counts. We have very little info about them that to from the few interactions we had.
The mention of this specific island was in 1771, when a vessel of the East India Company passed this island and they had noticed few light and sound around the island. All the interactions with these specific tribe we had, one thing we are sure is that they are not very fond of us and they don’t even want to interact with us. Somewhat like they want to be in their place yet undiscoverable to all of us
In 1867, an Indian merchant ship containing 100 passengers and crew were attacked by some peoples. This happened on the 3rd day after they met an accident near the island. These peoples were naked, had short hair, had red painted noses & were making strange sounds. Peoples were saved from there with the help of British India’s Royal Navy.
After this incident, the island remains untouched and not disturbed for almost another 80 years. However, this changed as a film crew wanted to shoot a documentary about the indigenous population of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They were using tactics of presenting the gifts like food items, fish and pigs. The crew would drop these gifts at the entrance of these islands and then they would move back & observe if the local peoples invite them. This technique worked with the ONGE & JARAWA tribes.
But the same technique did not work out for Sentinelese peoples. It was believed that they follow isolation and one crew member was injured with the bows attacked by Sentinelese. The arrow was 2.5 metre in approx. However, it is still unknown that why Sentinelese are so aggressive and isolation followers against modern humans.
But there is one theory that claims and blames one person for all these bad interactions and perception about us. The person is reportedly MAURICE VIDAL PORTMAN. Portman was a British officer-in-charge of the Andaman Islands. He was sexually obsessed and attracted towards the Andamanese locals, including the “Sentinelese”. It is said that once he had kidnapped a Sentinelese couple and 4 children, in order to study them. But the couple died because they might not have genetic immunity against some diseases. Portman mentions these details in his own publication “A History of Our Relations with The Andamanese”.
All these interactions might have urged them to not meet and greet the modern human civilization for more than 100+ years. After 1974, Indian Government made many attempts to establish communication with the Sentinelese. Two Anthropologist played a key role in this, TN Pandit & Madhumala Chattopadhyay. Since 1981, TN pandit went towards the North Sentinel Islands several times, carrying gifts. But for almost 10 years he was unable to contact or visualize any presence. Things changed in 1991, when an Indian Govt. expedition project crew spent nearly 30 minutes with the Sentinelese.
A few week later, TN Pandit who missed the first trip went back to the North Sentinel Island again. But this time luck favoured, and he was successful this time and it gave us the first video footage of the Sentinelese. This depicted that they were using metals and weapons made by metals which may have been made by cracking and moulding the part of primrose ship.
After the 1997, the Indian Govt. refused to carry out more such expeditions and created an imaginary yet geographical defined perimeter around the Island. For now, we have separated us from all connection with Sentinelese. But at the same time, it questions our thinking as why we are not able to greet them. The answer lies in ourselves as still few cases comes where peoples with illegal transportation uses and take benefits of tribal peoples in all the group of Island in the exchange of mere things like basic facilities. This exchange includes Alcohol and food items and such things. We have progressed but some people still are same as pre-evolution period which affects the relation among us badly.
This information is collectively not present but still it has internet source for distinct proofs. More info and deep discussion can be found on the YouTube channel “soch by mohak mangal”, in which he elaborates the tribal connection and interaction of humans with different tribes of Andamanese.