Pune: The Indian Army’s Southern Command on Friday virtually blamed the media for the alleged suicide of a whistle-blower soldier, who was found dead at the Deolali Cantonment, Nashik, last week.
The soldier, Lance Naik Roy Mathew, had been reported missing since February 25 and his decomposed body was found hanging from the ceiling of an abandoned barrack.
As investigations started into his death, the Pune-headquartered Southern Command pointed a finger at the media for the incident.
Deceased 33-year-old Mathew had joined the Indian Army some 13 years ago and was part of a video on the “Sahayak System”, which went viral in the social media.
Hailing from Karuvelil in Kollam, Kerala, he was posted as an orderly attached with a Colonel at the Deolali School of Artillery.
In the video, Mathew had reportedly said that higher officials allegedly mistreated their “Sahayaks” and forced them to do petty jobs like polishing shoes, washing clothes and taking their pet dogs for walks.
The alleged sting video, captured through hidden cameras with faces masked, had gone viral on social media networks, as he raised questions on the “Sahayak System”.
The Indian Army said he was reported missing from February 25 onwards and was declared as “absent without leave” and an “apprehension roll” was registered with the local police.
“Preliminary investigations have now revealed that the suicide may be a result of a series of events, which were triggered by the media personnel managing to videograph the deceased by asking leading questions on his duties as a buddy without his knowledge,” a defence statement said on Friday.
“It is very likely that the guilt factor of letting down his superiors or conveying false impression to an unknown individual, led (him) to take the extreme step,” it added.
The statement said that the identity of the army personnel involved in the clipping was hidden and hence not known to the army, so there was no question of an inquiry being ordered against the soldier, thus ruling out any pressure on the deceased.
The army said a complaint had been lodged with the local police and an inquiry ordered into the circumstances leading to Mathew’s death, and the army was offering all assistance to his family and the civil administration.
Meanwhile, the Congress has demanded that the government order a “fair probe” into the death of Roy Mathew as also into the allegations of harassment of BSF trooper Tej Bahadur.
“We demand the government should order a fair probe that why Tej Bahadur and Roy Mathew were harassed and intimidated after they raised concerns about the government. We ask the government to order a fair probe into the death of Roy Mathew,” said Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill.
“We demand from Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to come out with the probe which he had promised on January 10 after Tej Bahadur’s video surfaced,” he added.