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Indian sea cadet missing; his diary spoke of mental torture on ship

Umashankar Mahto.  

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He is suspected to have jumped into the sea off Greece

Before he was suspected to have jumped into the sea off Greece, 22-year-old Umashankar Mahto wrote extensively in his diary of “mental torture” by the chief officer of m.t. True, who often abused him using filthy language. On several occasions, he complained he was hungry and clearly said he could not go on with his life’s dream of proving himself to his parents and siblings. Mahto’s diary and notings were sent to his elder brother Jayshankar who works in Pune.

At 4 a.m. on February 19, Mahto did not respond to a wakeup call and his cabin was locked. He could not be found anywhere on board and his life jacket and winter jacket were missing. The ship’s side railing near the life rafts had been removed. Mr. Noel Alphonso, General Manager of Andromeda Shipping India Pvt. Ltd., the agents who got Mahto his placement, told The Hindu on Wednesday that when the cadet was reported missing, the ship turned around and started search operations. The Hellenic Coastguard and Turkish vessels were involved in the operations and Mahto’s life jacket was located at night. The search resumed the next day but 36 hours after he was reported missing, the search was stopped.

Since the vessel MT True has a Malta registration, an inquiry will be conducted by the Maltese authorities. The ship is proceeding to Turkey now, Mr. Alphonso has said. The Directorate General of Shipping, India, will have its own inquiry. He did not comment on the contents of the diary written by Mahto.

Jayshankar Mahto said his younger brother received his Diploma in Nautical Science in Mumbai and was placed on board m.t. True, a part of the Geden Lines fleet of tankers. He joined on November 28, 2012. He called his father, a retired school principal in Jharkhand, on February 19 but said nothing to him about his mental state.

“My brother was abused, not given food, he was falsely accused of theft, and he was not allowed to move freely on board,” Mr. Jayshankar said. The family only knew all this once they read his diary which is indicative of the young man’s despair. In the last jotting, he wrote that he had learnt good manners from his parents and he thought of the chief officer as a father figure but he resorted to such filthy verbal abuse that he had only loathing left for being a cadet under him.

He apologised to his captain, his course mates and second and third officer and thanked them for their support, but he said he could not tolerate any more insults to his family. He pleaded with the chief officer not to do what he had done to him to any other cadet. He also referred to a “Sawant” who was kind to him and says he will not forget him.

Umashankar wrote that he came to fulfil his dreams and he just could not go home. He tells his mother that he is so broken. He apologises to his family and pleads with his seniors not to tell them about what happened on board. He says he does not know why such revenge is being taken for a little thing.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2016 10:06:26 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indian-sea-cadet-missing-his-diary-spoke-of-mental-torture-on-ship/article4459840.ece