A Board Of Inquiry (BOI) has given a clean chit to the Navy cadet who had shot at a fisherman while patrolling around Bombay High, off the Mumbai coast in May this year. The report which was submitted last month states that the firing by the Naval cadet was done “in the line of duty” and “was not intentional but accidental in nature”. The report has now been sent to the office of the Western Naval Command in South Mumbai for further ratification.
According to the sources, the BOI has found that the bullet deflected in the waters, ricocheted and got lodged in the leg of the victim, fisherman Sushant Luzi (23). “In the sea, a bullet tends to deflect and, therefore, warning shots are generally fired in the opposite direction of the subject so that it doesn’t hurt him. But since the cadet is a fresher and does not have much experience in gunnery, he did not aim his weapon in the right direction,” an official privy to the findings told The Indian Express.
On May 17, an Immediate Support Vessel (ISV) was on coastal security patrol duty in the Offshore Development Area i.e Bombay High, around 80 km from Mumbai, for providing protection to the offshore oil rigs. The ISV noticed a fishing trawler anchored close to an oil platform. According to the Navy officials, Luzi, a resident of Uttan village was fishing with 18 of his colleagues in their trawler, Christwel, in the restricted area. The Navy claims that despite repeated warnings, when the boat refused to move out of the prohibited area, warning shots were fired into the water. One round deflected on hitting the water and accidently hit a fisherman in the boat. The fisherman was immediately evacuated by a helicopter to a hospital ashore for treatment. He was later shifted to INHS Ashwini Hospital in Colaba, where he was treated for two months. Luzi was finally discharged on July 17.
While the BOI has given a clean chit to its men, it has pointed out that since the officer is a fresher he was not able to shoot the warning shots proficiently.
“The BOI has concluded that when the Navy vessel first spotted the victim’s trawler in the prohibited waters it warned the fisherman and asked him to remove the net and move out from the restricted area. The victim, Luzi requested for extra time of half an hour to remove his net and the Navy official agreed, they left the spot but when the returned they saw that Luzi had not moved from his location and had neither removed his net. An argument ensued, forcing the cadet to fire warning shots,” added the officer. “
The BOI said that the firing was in the line of duty and they cadet did not fire intentionally. “The fishing boat came close to one of the oil platforms of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) located in Bombay High whose oil rigs are secured by the Navy and the cadet was left with no option but to fire. However while firing the shot, the bullet accidentally hit the fisherman as the cadet is a fresher and did not aim properly,” added the official referring to the observations made by the BOI.
The police are still probing the case of attempt to murder against unknown Navy officials embarked on Vessel T-14 and is yet to receive the weapon used in the firing from the Navy.
The cadet has filed an anticipatory bail application and it is slated to be heard on August 8. At an earlier occasion Luzi had told The Indian Express the firing was not accidental and that the official had taken an aim and fired at him.