Army blames media for death of whistle-blower soldier

Pune (Maharashtra), March 3 (IANS) 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, a gunner, 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.

The 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 on 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 ‘apprehension roll’ was registered with the local police.

“Preliminary investigations have now revealed that the suicide may be a result of 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 any enquiry that could have been ordered against the soldier, ruling out any pressures on the deceased.

The army said a complaint has been lodged with the local police, an enquiry has been ordered into the circumstances leading to Mathew’s death and the army was offering all assistance to his family and civil administration.

–IANS

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