Barely a month ago, Lieutenant Commander Kapish Muwal had celebrated his 28th birthday in New Delhi. He was the elder son of his Dwarka-based family, adventurous and outgoing. While leaving, he told his family he would be back soon. He never returned.
Muwal was one of the two officers who were on Thursday declared dead in the previous day’s fire aboard the INS Sindhuratna. The other was Lieutenant Manoranjan Kumar, whose family in Jamshedpur heard the news on TV. Muwal’s family declined to speak about their loss. They issued a statement saying he had celebrated his birthday at home on January 19. The family said Muwal was a very brave young man, and that they were proud of him.
Speaking at their Vastu Vihar apartment in Jamshedpur’s Mango locality, Manoranjan Kumar’s younger brother told reporters that the family had called up the Navy’s offices in Mumbai to confirm the news. They had then switched off the TV so that the news could be kept from Kumar’s mother. The officer’s mother is not well, and has been told that her son has had an accident and is in hospital. Kumar’s father Naveen Kumar Chaudhary, a former Army man, has left for Mumbai to receive the body. Kumar studied for a time at the Army School in Bareilly, and joined the NDA before being commissioned in the Navy in 2007.
In Delhi, Muwal’s close friend Mitsu Chavda told The Indian Express, “I met him on Facebook a month and a half ago. In a very short while, we became good friends. He was adventurous, and a fitness freak. Five days ago, he called me and we had a long chat. He told me he was excited.” Chavda, who hails from Gujarat and is an engineering graduate, said she had told Muwal to be careful. “He told me not to worry, because he was doing something that he enjoyed,” Chavda said. “He needled me saying I was fat, and joked that he would get me to work out like him and lose weight. He was a good friend.
“All this seems so unreal. A common friend called at 8 pm yesterday to inform me. I don’t want to believe it.” Muwal’s father, who too has served in the Navy, has gone to Mumbai with his wife to receive the body. It will be flown to Delhi for the cremation on Friday.