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The man who spent decades befriending isolated Sentinelese tribe

November 26, 2018 4:05 pm

Not many people know more about the Sentinelese than Indian anthropologist T N Pandit.

As a regional head for India’s Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Mr Pandit embarked on visits to their isolated island community over a period spanning decades.

The tribe, who have lived in near-total isolation for tens of thousands of years, came to global attention last week after they reportedly killed a 27-year-old American would-be missionary trying to make contact with them.

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But Mr Pandit, now 84, says from his experience the group are largely “peace-loving” and believes their fearsome reputation is unfair.

“During our interactions they threatened us but it never reached a point where they went on to kill or wound. Whenever they got agitated we stepped back,” he told the BBC’s World Service.

“I feel very sad for the death of this young man who came all the way from America. But he made a mistake. He had enough chance to save himself. But he persisted and paid with his life.”

Mr Pandit first set out to visit North Sentinel island, solely inhabited by the tribe, in 1967 as part of an expedition group.

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