A telegram on September 23, 1993 from the Indian Navy shattered Anuradha Paldhe’s life. Her son Amar, 25, a Navy diver, had gone missing. Later that evening, the Navy's Mumbai office informed the Dombivli-based Paldhes about his death. His body had been found in a decomposed state in the sea at Kakinada, few nautical miles from Vizag.
The Navy said Amar died due to shock and haemorrhage due to multiple injuries, and drowning. But the medical and post-mortem reports contradicted the Navy’s claim.
Ever since, for the last 18 years, Anuradha, 66, has been fighting to know the real cause of her son’s death with little success with no answers from the Indian Navy.
On September 21, 1993, at around 6.50 am, Amar along with the three other divers were to jump into the sea from a helicopter. Amar dived into the water from about 15 feet, surfaced and then disappeared. The Paldhes have pointed out several discrepancies in the Navy’s account — one of which is that rescue operations were discontinued because of high tide, although records suggest there was no high tide then.
The family was also stunned to find out Amar’s body was kept in the morgue without refrigeration. The Navy official accompanying them said this was the way bodies were kept there.
Amar’s death remains a mystery, 18 years on. The family filed a suit in 1997 against the Navy for compensation at a civil court in Kakinada.
“We did not want the money. But some legal experts suggested that it could be the only way to get answers from the Navy, and find out the real cause of Amar’s death.” The Kakinada court pointed numerous discrepancies in the Navy’s version of the events and asked it to pay a sum of Rs 19.2 lakhs to the parents. But the Navy filed an appeal against the decision, stating that the naval service had some job hazards, for which the personnel, or their family in case of death, were paid compensation, which had been done in the Paldhes’ case.
“If such is the attitude of the Indian Navy, why would any mother send her child to it,” says Anuradha.