MUMBAI: Two days after returning from leave, a 22-year-old Navy sailor was found dead with a bullet wound on head onboard the Brahmaputra-class frigate, INS Betwa, that was anchored at the Naval Dock early on Sunday. His service rifle was found near his body.
Colaba police have filed an accidental death report. They suspect it to be a case of suicide, though no note has been found.
After returning from his leave, Ramesh Choudhary was posted as an electrical artificer (Power) 5 on the warship that was anchored at the Lion’s Gate for the last six days. Sources said that his colleagues did not notice anything amiss in his behaviour. On Sunday morning, when Choudhary did not turn up for attendance, his colleagues looked for him and found him in a cabin with a bullet injury, said a police officer. His rifle was lying next to him, he added. The colleagues informed Colaba police and Choudhary was taken to J J Hospital, where he was declared brought dead.
“Choudhary was found dead due to a bullet injury in the morning hours of Sunday. His service issue rifle was found next to him,” a defence spokesperson told TOI. “The matter is under investigation by the police with the assistance of naval authorities. A board of inquiry has been initiated to know the reason that triggered him to end his life.”
The unmarried sailor, who had just returned to the ship post leave, hailed from Jodhpur, the spokesperson said. Choudhary’s parents and sister have been informed about the incident.
This is the second case of a Navy sailor ending his life in the last 14 months. On November 14, 2019, a 25-year-old Navy sailor, Akhilesh Yadav, was found dead with a bullet injury at INS Angre naval base. He has shot himself with his INSAS rifle while on duty. The reason behind the suspected suicide was unclear.
INS Betwa is the warship that had ‘slipped from her dock blocks’, tilted and then crashed flat on her left (port) side while being undocked during a maintenance refit on December 5, 2016. Two sailors were crushed to death, while 14 others escaped with minor injuries in the incident. Action was taken against three senior officers in 2019 for dereliction of duty based on the findings of a board of inquiry which carried out a probe into the incident.