Soldier in viral video found dead; Army questions website role

Mumbai/New Delhi: A 33-year-old jawan, who purportedly figured in an expose by a news portal on the orderly system in the army, was found dead in Maharashtra’s Deolali and army today appeared to blame the website for driving him to commit “suicide”.

Roy Mathew, a resident of Ezhukon in Kollam district of Kerala, was missing since February 25 and his decomposed body was found hanging from the ceiling in an abandoned barrack in Deolali cantonment in Nashik yesterday.

The army said it never questioned Mathew after the video, which showed soldiers, working as Sahayaks, walking dogs of senior army officials or taking their children to school, surfaced.

It said preliminary investigation has revealed that “the suicide may be result of a series of events which were triggered by media personnel managing to video-graph the deceased by asking leading questions on his duties as a 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 to take the extreme step.”

Police have registered a case of accidental death under Section 174 of the CrPC.

According to his family in Kerala, Mathew made his last phone call to them on February 25 and from the way he talked it was evident that he was in a frightened state.

Sources said the last text message of Mathew, who was attached for ‘buddy duties’ with a Colonel-rank officer, was to the officer in which he said “sorry”.

In a release, the army said the identity of the soldier in the video was hidden and thereby not known to it. “Hence there is no question of any enquiry that could have been ordered.”

There is a view in the army that it should explore legal options against the news portal.

The army has also ordered a probe into circumstances leading to Mathew’s death.

“Complaint has been lodged with the local police and an enquiry has been ordered by the army authorities to investigate the circumstances leading to his death. Army is offering all assistance in this regard to the family of the deceased and the civil administration.”

Mathew had gone missing on February 25 and was declared absent without leave, the army said.

The sting operation had led to criticism of the British- era Sahayak (buddy) system. The army has ordered an inquiry into how the sting took place.

Police said Mathew, whose body was decomposed, might have died three days ago.

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