New Delhi: The Palghar police of Maharashtra has been accused of putting pressure on the family members of the deceased Indian navy sailor, Suraj Dubey, to accept the Palghar police’s theory that he had committed suicide by self immolation. The Palghar police is pushing this theory, as per the family members of Dubey, who spoke to The Sunday Guardian, despite presenting no proof to substantiate the same.

Asked by the family members of Dubey as to what led them to believe that he had committed suicide by traveling more than 1,500 km from Chennai to Palghar, the Palghar police told them it was as assessment that they reached on the basis of a ‘doubt’ that he has committed suicide. “When we asked the Palghar police what kind of evidence and footage will they present in the court when the court will ask them how can they say that Dubey committed suicide, the police officer concerned said it was on the basis of ‘doubt’,” Neeraj, the brother of Suraj, told The Sunday Guardian.

It is pertinent to mention that in his dying declaration, that forms the basis of the FIR in the case, which has been accessed by The Sunday Guardian, Dubey had mentioned the name of one individual “Irfan” and the description of two others individuals who had abducted him from outside the Chennai airport on the night of 30 January and then burnt him alive at a hilltop in Palghar area on the morning of 5 February by pouring petrol on him. However, in bytes given to local media organizations, the Palghar police stated that Dubey ended his life due to the “huge amount of unpaid loans”.

The statement was recorded by Inspector Sarjerao Shamrao Kumbhari, police station Gholvad, on 5 February at 6.18 pm at Dahanu cottage hospital, Palghar. His timing of death has been recorded at 11.46 pm the same night.In his postmortem certificate that was done at the JJ hospital, his cause of death has been stated as “shock due to burn”.

Almost two months after his death, the Palghar police has not been able to generate any information as to what led to the gruesome death of the 27-year-old Dubey while moving from one theory to the other, raising questions as to whether the Palghar police SP, Dattareye Shinde—who refused to respond to repeated calls and WhatsApp messages of The Sunday Guardian seeking his response to the allegations raised by Suraj’s family members—was trying to “cover-up’ the investigation into the death of the Indian navy personnel, as claimed by his family members.

What has added to the discomfort to the family members of Dubey is that the Palghar police is “pressurizing” them to physically come to Palghar to “assist’ in the investigation. The Palghar police, in a letter signed by Sub divisional police officer Dhanaji Nalawade, was sent on 27 February to Suraj’s father and brother, has asked them to come to Palghar to help in the investigation.

According to one of the close relatives of Suraj, when they said that they will not come to Palghar, the Palghar police told the JJ hospital and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) not to release the death certificate of Suraj until his family members physically come to Mumbai. “It has been two months and yet we have still not received his death certificate. You can imagine the trauma we are going through, no one is helping us. The Palghar police is peddling one theory after another and when we said no to their order of coming to Palghar, they told the BMC and JJ hospital not to release his death certificate. What should we do? We just want justice for Suraj, but rather than providing that, the Maharashtra police is harassing us,” a close family member of Dubey told The Sunday Guardian.

“They are not investigating who was Irfan, where was the car which took him from Chennai to Palghar, who were the other men who were traveling with him in the car, all of which was provided by Suraj just hours before he passed away. Who are they trying to protect and why? We have requested Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren to order a CBI inquiry into this matter, which he has assured will be done soon,” he said.

Earlier, the same Palghar police Superintendent of Police (SP) Dattatray Shinde, had stated, on record, that Suraj was killed by his abductors because his family members did not fulfil the ransom demand of Rs 10 lakh. The SP has also stated that Suraj was under a lot of debt, a charge which has been vehemently denied by his family members who spoke to The Sunday Guardian.