Lance Naik Roy Mathew, an Indian army jawan who reportedly featured in a sting operation by The Quint on the feudal nature of the ‘sahayak’ (orderly) system, was found dead in an abandoned barrack in Deolali Cantonment in Maharashtra on Thursday. Times of India now reports that a diary of the jawan has been found in which he wrote that “it is better to die than face a court martial.”
The jawan, who is suspected to have killed himself, was a part of an investigative report in the news website which exposed the way jawans were used as domestic helps by senior officers in the army.
A gunner, 33-year-old Roy was found hanging from the ceiling of a room and in a decomposed state. Indian Express reports that the post-mortem has ruled out any foul play.
But Roy Mathew’s family is not convinced. They have applied for a re-post mortem of Roy’s body.
Speaking to The News Minute, Roy’s brother John said, “They say it was suicide but we have doubts. There were reports that severe wounds were found in his feet. Their behaviour in Military camp to his body was also not good. Even now they kept the body in road and told us not to take body without their order.”
John said that Roy had called home on February 25, after the sting operation was published. “He called home crying. He said he did not know it was a video to be telecasted. After that he went missing. He might have been questioned by them. He called his wife on the 25th and cried saying he might lose job. After that his phone was off,” John said.
“On the 27th, we sent a letter to the army chief. On March 1 we complained to the Kerala CM and opposition leader. The very next day we got a call saying they got his body and it was 3 or 4 days old. We can’t understand - why should he commit suicide? That is why we gave application for a re post-mortem,” he said.
"He called after the video was published and he said he did not know to whom he revealed all that, and that it was being telecast on channels. He was crying. I asked him whether he went for duty and he said yes. I asked him to be strong, assured him that nothing would go wrong. He listened to me at the time. Then when I tried calling him, his phone was switched off. I want to know what happened, I want to know the reason," Roy Mathew's wife Finny told media persons.
Roy had served in the army for 13 years, and had spoken to the reporter recording on spy-camera about the menial jobs given to him. However, his name was not mentioned in the report and his face was blurred out. The report has since been taken down from the site.
The police are investigating whether Roy was tortured or harassed after the sting operation was published, ToI reported.
In a statement to the media, the army said, “Preliminary investigations have now revealed that the suicide may be the result of a series of events which were triggered by media personnel managing to video-graph the deceased by asking leading questions on his duty as buddy without his knowledge. 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.”
“A complaint has been lodged with local police and an enquiry has been ordered by army authorities to investigate the circumstances leading to his death… From February 25 onwards, this individual was declared absent without leave and apprehension roll was registered with the police as per existing order, till the body was recovered from an abandoned barrack,” the statement added, according to IE.