Lieutenant Commander Kapish Muwal was 32 years old, Lieutenant Manoranjan Kumar was 30. Both the young men, officers of the Indian Navy, died saving other sailors when a fire broke out on their submarine, the INS Sindhuratna early on Wednesday.
Navy personnel gathered in Mumbai to lay wreaths and pay tribute to the officers
Their families are disconsolate. Ashish, brother of Lt Commander Muwal, said, “If my brother was here, he would have told me, I would have loved to die in battle…this is embarrassing. This is not death fit for a defence officer.”
He said his brother had told him that the INS Sindhuratna was not fit to go to sea. “My brother knew the submarine was defective. Everyone knew it was defective. It was sent for trial one last time. It was only for one day and it proved fatal. It is a bad joke which has taken two precious lives.”
At Lt Cdr Manoranjan Kumar’s home in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, no one dared break the news to his mother on Thursday. The family reportedly disconnected its cable TV connection and stopped all visitors from coming home.
“Manoranjan studied engineering for four years before joining the navy. He was the brightest in the family…it is a shock for us,” said his cousin Rajesh Kumar. The officer’s father has left for Mumbai to bring back his body. The officer was reportedly engaged to be married.
The officers’ bodies were found in an airtight compartment of the submarine after it was brought to the Naval harbour in Mumbai. Seven sailors had been airlifted to hospital soon after smoke was detected in the submarine, which was being sea-tested after a refit.
A battery leak had reportedly started the fire, and poisonous fumes from fire extinguishers filled two compartments.
Survivors say the two officers pushed their comrades out of the compartments and were checking to see whether anyone was left when a hatch closed, trapping them inside.
Their bodies were reportedly bloated and disfigured due to hours of exposure to toxic gases.
Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi cited a series of accidents on his watch while resigning on Wednesday.