Deceased Navy seaman checked into Vellore lodge after landing in Chennai: Police

In his dying statement, Suraj Kumar Dubey had told police that he had been kidnapped from outside Chennai airport by three persons, who drove him to Palghar where they set him on fire for not paying a ransom of Rs 10 lakh.

Nearly two weeks after the charred body of a 27-year-old Indian Navy sailor was found in the forests of Palghar, the police have concluded that he was not kidnapped from outside Chennai airport, where he landed from Ranchi on January 31, as he had said in his dying declaration. But the police are yet to ascertain how and why he was in Maharashtra.

In his dying statement, Suraj Kumar Dubey had told police that he had been kidnapped from outside Chennai airport by three persons, who drove him to Palghar where they set him on fire for not paying a ransom of Rs 10 lakh. After he succumbed to 90 per cent burn injuries on February 5, the Palghar police registered a murder case and formed 10 teams comprising 100 officers to investigate the matter.

The police, which have been tracking the movements of the deceased after he landed at Chennai airport, discovered that he had checked into a lodge in Vellore, more than 120 kilometres away from the airport. “Based on the guest register maintained at the lodge, Dubey stayed there overnight on January 31 — the day he arrived in Chennai from his hometown in Jharkhand — and checked out from the lodge at 6 pm on February 1. He was alone. We are trying to find out how he reached Palghar,” an officer said.

The officer added that based on the CCTV footage they have procured so far, he appears to be moving outside the airport by himself with no apparent evidence of duress.

According to police, Dubey was in debt after he had taken money from a colleague in the Navy, his future in-laws and a personal loan of Rs 8 lakh. The police found that he had invested heavily in shares and only had Rs 360 left in his two savings accounts. The police have also learned that the Navy colleague whom he owed more than Rs 5 lakh had called him before he left Jharkhand. Dube had come to Chennai to rejoin duty after a week’s leave. In January, Dubey was engaged to get married.

An officer said, “In his dying statement, he said he was kidnapped in a white SUV from outside Chennai airport. We have found no such clue. However, it is possible that he was in extreme pain and could not tell us properly where he had been abducted. So, we are just trying to get some more details about his movement from the Vellore hotel to Palghar and whether he went willingly or was abducted.”

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