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Monday, March 08, 2021

Abducted in Chennai, Navy sailor burnt in Palghar: cops

According to the police, he informed them of details of the alleged abduction and extortion attempt by the trio before his death. The police are in the process of verifying his statement.

Written by Mohamed Thaver , Abhishek Angad | Mumbai |
Updated: February 7, 2021 7:10:11 am
According to the police, he informed them of details of the alleged abduction and extortion attempt by the trio before his death. The police are in the process of verifying his statement.

A 27-YEAR-OLD Navy sailor, who was abducted, allegedly by three people from outside Chennai airport on January 31, died of burn injuries after he was set on fire on a hillock in Maharashtra’s Palghar district, the police said on Saturday.

Surajkumar Mithilesh Dubey, a native of Jharkhand, who was attached to INS Agrani, a Navy training establishment at Coimbatore, had sustained 90 per cent burn injuries and succumbed on Friday, the police said.

According to the police, he informed them of details of the alleged abduction and extortion attempt by the trio before his death. The police are in the process of verifying his statement.

In Jharkhand, Dubey’s family informed the police on February 1 that he went missing on January 30, after he left for INS Agrani Unit in Coimbatore, via Chennai.

A resident of Purvadiha village of Chainpur block, in Jharkhand’s Daltonganj district, Dubey’s father, Mithilesh Dubey, in a police complaint on February 1 said that his son left for duty on January 30, but his phone remained switched off since 6.46 am that day.

The family also approached Palamu MP, V D Ram, who wrote to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, mentioning that the family “remains distressed” about Dubey’s whereabouts. “I earnestly request you to kindly get the matter looked into and help expedite the process of investigation,” the MP wrote.

As per Dubey’s statement to Palghar police, he took a flight from Ranchi around 8 am on January 30. Around 9pm, when he stepped out of the airport, three people in their forties held him at gunpoint and took away his mobile phone, he told police.

Dubey, who had sustained 90 per cent burn injuries, also told police that the trio came in a white SUV and forced him to get into
it. They then demanded a ransom of Rs 10 lakh and for three days kept him in Chennai, an officer said. An officer said Dubey could not reply when asked where he was kept in Chennai.

The abductors subsequently drove him from Chennai to Palghar, and around 9 am Friday, they allegedly tied his hands and marched him to the top of a hillock at Vevji forests, at Gholwad in Dahanu, he told the police. “He said they doused him with petrol and set him on fire with an intention to kill him,” an officer said.

Investigators said the climb to the hilltop would have taken at least 25-30 minutes. Dubey told the police that the men left him there for dead.

Several hours later, local residents spotted him and informed the police, who took him to Cottage hospital in Dahanu. From there, he was moved to Mumbai’s Sion hospital – he had sustained 90 per cent burn injuries.

Palghar SP Datta Shinde said, “Since he was found in Palghar, Gholwad police station (there) has registered an FIR on charges of murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, robbery, wrongful confinement and common intention. The SDPO of Dahanu division has been asked to investigate the matter further.”

In a statement, the Defence PRO stated, “A Naval sailor, Suraj Kumar Dubey, L/S (Leading Seaman), age 26 yrs of INS Agrani, on leave from the unit, was found in Palghar, Maharashtra with 90 percent burns on the morning of 5th February. He was brought to INHS Asvini and declared DOA (dead on arrival). A case has been registered at Palghar police station and the SP, Palghar is investigating the matter.”

In Jharkhand, SP Palamu’s office (Daltonganj) had sent a letter on February 2 to “Chengalpet Police”, near Chennai, under whose jurisdiction his phone location was last traced. A diary entry was made at Chainpur police station.

Palamu SP, Sanjeev Kumar, told The Indian Express: “Since the case was outside Jharkhand we did not register an FIR but sent a letter for further inquiry.”

In his letter to the Defence Minister, local MP Ram wrote: “(Local) police investigation led to the uncovering of the following: the last location of Mr Suraj Kumar Dubey was traced back to airport Metro Station Meenambakkam Chennai. A local inquiry led to further information about Dubey being dropped near NSG camp, Otteri Police Station, by a taxi driver. However, no further clues have been found during the course of the investigation.”

In Maharashtra, an officer familiar with the investigation said Dubey’s family members have been informed and his father and brother would be coming to the city to collect his body.

An officer said some aspects of Dubey’s statement were puzzling. “Several things about the version of events given by the deceased are not adding up – like why the accused would demand Rs 10 lakh ransom when there was nothing to indicate he had a lot of money, and why the accused, if they were robbers, drove him all the way to Palghar from Chennai,” the officer said.

“We are looking at CCTV cameras outside Chennai airport and checking call data records to find more about the identity of the accused. We will also be talking to his family, friends and colleagues to find out if there was some personal enmity or any threats that he had spoken about,” the officer added.

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