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Navy man’s mother fights 22-year-long battle for truth

It has been 22 years since Amar Paladhe, a clearance diver working for the Indian Navy, died during an exercise in the Bay of Bengal, but his gutsy mother Anuradha says she is far from getting a closure and continues to seek answers on what led to her son’s demise.

“His untimely and – as several court judgments term it – ‘suspicious and mysterious’ death leaves me with no choice but to fight all odds and ensure that real culprits are found and punished,” said Anuradha (68).

The retired teacher stressed that she is a patriotic citizen and has full faith in law of the land.

But, she added, “I won’t even have liberty to die without knowing real culprits behind Amar’s death.”

Amar died on September 21, 1993 during an exercise off Kakinada on the eastern coast. The native of Dombivili in adjoining Thane district had reportedly jumped into the Bay of Bengal waters from a helicopter.

He was recruited by the Navy as Seaman-I, Clearance Diver No. III, and, in 1993, he was in the Eastern Naval Command Clearance Diving scheme.

The post-mortem report did not attribute any particular cause for the death and a lengthy battle ensued in the courts.

“Naval officials themselves called Amar as a diver who was ‘cut above other divers’ and several court judgements also noted the mystery and negligence surrounding his death,” Anuradha said.

She said the Navy is using “delaying tactics” like not being present in court for hearings, filing inaccurate affidavits, including a recent one where she had been called as his wife.

“There were grave inconsistencies in Navy’s official replies, affidavits, reports in these 22 years, so my question is what the concerned officers are protecting or hiding in this unfortunate incidence of my son’s mysterious and negligent death?” questioned Anuradha, whose husband died a few years ago.

She said friends like advocates Sunil and Manjiri Ganu, and legal counsel Rajendra Pai were fighting her case pro bono, and she was also getting support from her former students in this quest.

When contacted, a Defence spokesperson said, “The matter has been forwarded to the Eastern Naval Command and a reply is awaited.

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