The kin of 23-year-old Melvin Raj, the sailor who allegedly committed suicide on board INS Talwar off the Mumbai Coast on Saturday, claimed that his identity card and mobile phone were confiscated by Naval authorities.

Raising doubts over the circumstances that led to his death, the sailor’s family wanted to visit the room (in the ship) where his body was found. However, they were not allowed for security reasons.

“He was in-charge of the armoury on board INS Talwar. I know my brother. He was a courageous man. We don’t believe in this suicide theory. When he called last, Raj said his leave was cancelled and that his mobile phone and identity card would be taken away. After the leave was cancelled, he offered to resign from service,” one of his younger brothers Jayaseelan told The Hindu over phone from Mumbai.

Navy officials who informed the family a couple of hours after the body was found first said that Raj was critically injured in an accident. “When we enquired further, they claimed that he was hit by a bullet and declared dead when taken to the Naval Hospital. It seems Raj’s colleague left for dinner at 7.15 p.m. on January 5. When he returned around 8 p.m., the armoury was locked from inside and Raj did not respond to calls. They saw him through a window lying unconscious with a bullet injury.” “Raj celebrated his birthday on December 1. His visit to Semmanarkoil (Mayiladuthurai in Nagapattinam district) was planned well in advance.”

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