Defence Minister AK Antony has ordered a re-investigation into the mysterious death of Captain Sumit Kohli in Jammu and Kashmir, heeding to the demands of his family that had maintained that it was a murder and not a suicide as claimed by the Army.
Antony, who had met the family of Sumit a fortnight ago, asked Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar to order the fresh investigation following a representation from the young officer's mother Veena Kohli, Ministry sources said on Tuesday.
Veena had demanded a probe independent of the Army or by the CBI, saying she had no faith in the Army that had declared that Sumit had committed suicide.
26-year-old Sumit, who was serving with 16 Rashtriya Rifles in Lolab in north Kashmir, was found dead with gun shot wounds in his room in the military residential facility in April 2006 on the last day of posting in counter-insurgency operations in the border state.
It had been just two months since he had won the Shaurya Chakra, the country's third highest peacetime gallantry medal, for a brave act in the Kashmir operations and his sudden death had shocked his family. On receiving the news of his son's demise, Sumit's father suffered a stroke.
He died a day after the officer's cremation. Veena, in her representation to Antony, had said that Sumit was a brave officer and could never have committed suicide. She also denied Army's claim that the young officer killed himself with a service rifle due to family troubles.
His family alleged that he was murdered because he knew who were behind the killing of four porters in a fake encounter in Lolab in Kashmir in April 2004. In August 2005, the Army had ordered a probe into the allegation that its personnel killed four natives of a border hamlet in Jammu in a fake encounter claiming them to be militants to get gallantry awards.
Refuting Veena's contention, Col Rahul Pandey, who was the then commanding officer of Sumit's unit, had maintained that it was a case of suicide due to family troubles.
The Defence Minister had assured the family, based in Chandigarh, that Summit's death would be re-investigated and he would get back to them on it soon. Sumit's family had appealed to the Minister to provide justice to it, noting that its suspicion over the mystery over Sumit's death had only strengthened on perusal of documents due to contradictions in the autopsy and medical reports.
Demanding access to original documents, Veena had said, "it should be found out how he died. I had earlier thought that whatever Army was saying was correct, but I want his post-mortem report so that I can be fully satisfied. I can't believe he had committed suicide."