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Missing sailor: ‘Navy backtracked on word to provide probe report’

Three months after a Petty Officer of the Indian Navy had gone missing under mysterious circumstances from an Indian Navy Ship...

Written by Shashank Shekhar | Mumbai |
June 21, 2009 3:39:50 am

Family members say efforts to obtain copy of report failed; Navy says aspects are still being verified

Three months after a Petty Officer (PO) of the Indian Navy had gone missing under mysterious circumstances from an Indian Navy Ship,his family members have alleged that the Navy has backtracked on its commitment to provide them with a copy of its board of inquiry (BOI) report that it had earlier promised.

According to Vinod Chandra Pandey,the missing sailor’s brother-in-law,the family was promised a duplicate copy of the BOI report by the ship’s commanding officer by May 10,but all their efforts to obtain a copy has failed. The Navy,however,says that the inquiry report is still under scrutiny and will only be released after all the aspects of the report are fully verified.

Earlier this year on April 12,Prem Prakash Shukla,Petty Officer (PO) of the Indian Navy,had gone missing under mysterious circumstances from an Indian Navy ship,INS Godavari,between Karvar and Goa in the Arabian Sea. The ship was on its way back to the Western Naval Command (WNC) in Mumbai. Shukla was reportedly last seen around 8am on the ship on that day and was discovered to be missing by the ship’s officers after a roll call was undertaken around 9 am. The family had earlier said that all attempts on their part to get an FIR registered on the same case at the Yellow Gate police station had also been in vain.

According to a Navy officer,following Shukla’s disappearance,the BOI was set up around April 17-18 and on April 25,when the ship had left for Somalia to carry out surveillance operations. A source also revealed that initial findings of the report were submitted to the WNC on May 27.

According to Pandey,the commanding officer of INS Godavari had written to the family in a letter dated May 1 assuring them that the probe results would be made available to the family by May 10. However,on May 9,it was again communicated to the family that the report was awaited. The Navy,citing that there was no specific information asked for by the applicant,further declined Pandey’s RTI plea on the BOI report. Meanwhile,Pandey is filing another RTI.

Prem Prakash Shukla’s family,comprising his wife Usha Shukla and three children,have also sought a permanent job for his wife in the Navy.

However,a ministry of defence (MoD) spokesperson said that the BOI report is never provided to the family. “The report is first submitted to the command which sends it to the headquarters from where it is scrutinised thoroughly,” he said. “There are certain government regulations and you have to wait till processes and enquiries are complete,” he added.

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