A sailor has been missing from a naval warship since April 12 and his family suspects that his colleagues might have a hand in his disappearance. The navy has set up a board to look into the incident.
Prem Prakash Shukla, a Petty Officer, was on board INS Godavari, which was sailing back from Kerala to Mumbai, when he went missing. His family has accused the navy of not doing enough to track the 37-year-old sailor.
“I hope the navy will find him alive or will at least tell me if he has died,” his wife Usha said on Wednesday. The couple have three children.
Shukla was on duty from 1 to 4 am in the sonar operation cabin with two others on April 12. One of the colleagues left early, complaining of a headache. Soon after, Shukla left for a round of the vessel. He was last seen talking to a cadet at around 1.30 am. The officer who came in for the next shift failed to notice that Shukla had not signed out, Usha said.
Next morning, when he didn’t report for duty, a search was launched and Shukla declared missing at noon. “We got a call from the naval officials that Prem was missing, but nobody contacted us till the ship came to Mumbai,” said Usha. The ship docked in Mumbai on April 15.
Usha’s brother Vinod Panda filed a missing complaint with the Yellow Gate police on April 15. Shukla was a disciplinarian and some of his colleagues didn’t like it, he said. “We suspect that some of his colleagues might have landed him in trouble,” said Usha.
The navy had set up a board to inquire into the incident, spokesperson Capt M. Nambiar said. He said the sailor’s absence was noticed about an hour later after which a ship search was carried out. Three ships, a helicopter and an aircraft continued to look for Shukla till April 15, but couldn’t find him, he said.
“The navy sent Godavari back from Goa to look for Prem, but it only went till Karwar whereas he had gone missing between Kochi and Karwar,” Panday said. Karwar is a port town in northern Karnataka and is 100 km from Goa.