In a shocking incident, a 26-year-old Navy sailor Suraj Dubey was allegedly kidnapped from Chennai on January 30 was set ablaze by his kidnappers in the jungles of Maharashtra’s Palghar district and died of his injuries, the Maharashtra police said on Saturday.
The man was found with severe burn injuries in the jungle of Gholvad in Palghar and died while being taken to a hospital in Mumbai on Friday.
Suraj Dubey, the victim, was returning from vacation on January 30 when three men abducted him at gunpoint outside Chennai Airport around 9 pm. In his dying declaration, the man alleged that his captors had demanded a ransom of Rs 10 lakh.
Dubey was held captive in Chennai for three days and later shifted to an area near Vevji in Talasari area of Palghar district of Maharashtra, 1,500 KMs away from the Tamil Nadu capital.
According to reports, when the abductors’ demand for ransom was not fulfilled by the Navy official’s family, the kidnappers got angry and tied his hands and legs and set him on fire in jungles near Gholvad, and fled leaving him to die.
Following Dubey’s death, an investigation was launched by the Maharashtra Police. Konkan Range Inspector General Sanjay Mohite spoke to media, informing that 10 police teams have been working with their counterparts in Chennai and Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, Ranchi in Jharkhand and Mumbai to get to the bottom of the case.
As per the preliminary investigation, it came to light that Suraj Dubey was a stock market enthusiast. The police had sought his bank, loans and shares transaction details. Dubey, a Leading Seaman (LS) who served at INS Agrani in Coimbatore, had exchanged rings with his fiancée at Daltonganj in Jharkhand on January 15.
Suraj Dubey had sought huge loans and was an avid share trader: Palghar Police
Speaking to media, Palghar Superintendent of Police Dattatray Shinde said that Dubey had carried a large number of share transactions through brokering firms based out of Bhopal and Mumbai. He had apparently taken a loan of Rs 8 lakhs, borrowed Rs 5.72 lakhs from a colleague and received Rs 9 lakhs in his bank account from his future in-laws.
Shinde, however, said that despite taking big loans, the balance in Dubey’s two bank accounts in different branches of the State Bank of India was just Rs 392.
These details have cast aspersions on the real reason why Dubey was killed. Consequently, the police are probing all possible angles to solve the case.
Additionally, Shinde revealed that Suraj Dubey had received 13 calls from a particular number soliciting details of his Raipur-Hyderabad-Chennai flight on January 30-31.
In his dying declaration, Dubey alleged that he was kidnapped by three armed men who demanded a ransom of Rs 10 lakh from him. However, Dubey’s elder brother Niraj Kumar Dubey said that the family did not receive any ransom call between January 30 and February 5.
“We are investigating all the possible angles, including whether the abduction was self-staged, with the alleged Rs 10 lakh ransom demand made to get himself out of the financial mess and clear his outstanding dues,” Shinde said.
What transpired between January 30 and February 5?
The Palghar SP Shinde said that Dubey was on vacation from January 1 to February 1. He was supposed to re-join his service for which boarded a Hyderabad-bound flight from Ranchi on January 30.
Dubey apparently spoke to his family members after reaching Hyderabad. He then took another flight to Chennai, from where he was scheduled to board a train to Coimbatore. Dubey reached Chennai at 9 PM on the same day.
Dubey was reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint after he exited the airport. Reports claimed three people pointed a revolver at Dubey and abducted him. He was kept in Chennai for three days after which he was shifted to Palghar, around 1,500 km away, and set him ablaze after dousing him with petrol on February 5. Dubey, however, somehow managed to come down the hill where he was cited by locals, who immediately alerted the Police.
Dubey was quickly rushed to a Dahanu hospital and later shifted to the INS Asvini, the Navy hospital in Mumbai where he succumbed to 90 per cent burns late on Friday.
CCTV footage from Chennai Airport lead police to doubt on Dubey’s dying declaration
However, a few CCTV footage from Chennai airport accessed by the Palghar reveals an altogether different story. The footage showed the Navy man roaming freely at the Meenambakkam Airport at Chennai after landing from Hyderabad. The visuals have led police to question the claims made by Dubey on his deathbed in which he asserted that he was kidnapped by three unidentified men and taken to a jungle in Palghar.
An officer who is part of the probe team to determine the mystery behind Dubey’s murder said Dube arrived at the Chennai airport around 12.30 am on January 30 and was alone.
“Dubey had claimed he was kidnapped immediately after he stepped outside the airport. It is questionable that Dubey claimed he was kidnapped, but had the time to withdraw ₹5,000 from an ATM in Chennai,” said the officer as quoted by the Hindustan Times.
Furthermore, the location of mobile phones carried by Dubey was tracked to determine the navy officer’s last location. The mobile phone details showed that Dubey was around the airport metro station at Meenambakkam, Chennai on the night of January 30.
Dubey’s family had claimed that he had 2 cell phones but it was only later revealed that the slain navy officer had three mobiles and not two, as his family members believed. One of the three mobiles was exclusively used for share and stock transactions.
Dubey had enrolled in the Indian Navy in 2013 and had served at INS Chilka in Odisha. After his stint there, he was transferred to Mumbai. Subsequently, he was posted to INS Agrani in Tamil Nadu.