An Indian Army soldier from Kerala, Lance Naik Roy Mathew was found dead near his camp in Nashik, Maharashtra, on Thursday, days after he had accused his seniors of harassment. The Army believes it was a suicide as the 33-year-old gunner from Kerala was found hanging from a ceiling fan in a room near Deolali Cantonment. But Mathew’s family suspects foul play and has demanded an inquiry, Hindustan Times reported.
Army officials said an initial probe revealed that his “suicide may be the result of a series of events triggered by certain media outlets managing to record Mathew’s replies to their leading questions on his duty as a buddy, without his knowledge,” ANI reported. “It is likely that guilt of letting down his superiors or conveying a false impression to unknown individuals led him to take the extreme step,” the news agency quoted the Army official as saying.
Mathew had gone missing from his camp on February 25, a day after he appeared in a video that highlighted the prevalent “sahayak system” in the Army. The clip, which had featured soldiers walking dogs of senior officers and taking their children to school, had sparked a controversy over the British-era practice, according to The Times of India. The clip was widely shared on social media.
A policeman said an investigation was on to ascertain whether Mathew and others were being made to do “buddy duties” at the Artillery Centre in Deolali. Mathew had claimed he was tortured and harassed after appearing in the video, the officer added. His family said Mathew was kept in confinement since making the allegations, local daily Mathrubhumi reported.