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Mystery shrouds top naval officer's death

Thursday, July 08, 2010 08:48:54 AM, Agencies

Kochi: Mystery shrouds the death of a top official of the Southern Naval Command S S Jamwal, who died on Wednesday after a bullet pierced his skull, with the police suspecting suicide but the navy describing it as a case of "accidental firing" 51 year-old Rear Admiral Jamwal, Chief of Staff of the Southern Naval Command, the second ranked naval officer here, was at the training establishment's small arms firing range of 'INS Dronacharya' when the accidental firing occurred around 1030 Hours, naval spokespersons said.

The Navy has ordered an investigation into his death but it was tightlipped about how the accident occurred.

A case of 'unnatural death' has been registered and top police sources said on condition of anonymity that it appeared to be a case of suicide. Family problems could be behind it, they said.

The body of Admiral Jamwal, a highly accomplished officer, was shifted to a hospital and further probe is in progress.

However, the local naval establishment dismissed reports of suicide as speculative.

"If the Chief of Staff wants to commit suicide he need not not go to the firing range. He was accompanied by his entire staff including the staff of Dronacharya. It was an official, planned visit to a firing range to check the progress of training", Commodore Ajayakumar told reporters.

Commodore Kumar, Commanding Officer of 'INS Venduruthy' and naval officer in charge of Kerala, said that Jamwal died as a 9 mm pistol he was inspecting accidentally went off.

Jamwal was at 'INS Dronacharya' on an official visit to monitor training of the second batch of 'Sagar Prahatri Bal', the new force being raised by the navy for coastal security in which 24 cadets were undergoing training. The training had commenced on Monday and today was the day for firing practice, he said.

The Rear Admiral, Commodore Kumar said, had said he himself would do some firing practice and first used the Insas and later the 9 mm pistol. Unfortunately the pistol misfired twice.

While he was inspecting it from close range to ascertain the cause of the misfiring, it suddenly went off, he said.

"The muzzle was pointing towards his head and during that time the gun went off accidentally," Commodore Kumar said.

Though he was rushed to the hospital, he was declared brought dead. Jamwal, who hailed from Jammu, leaves his wife, son and a daughter.

Commodore Kumar said a board of inquiry has been ordered to go into the incident to find out the reasons and it would file a report in 10 days.

Ruling out suicide, he said Admiral Jamwal was a very happy man. "I had never seen in despair. There were a lot of trainees there and his staff officer was accompanying him," he said.

Rear Admiral Jamwal was commissioned in the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer on July 1, 1980, and had specialised in anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

He was an alumnus of Lawrence School at Sanawar, National Defence Academy (NDA), Grechko Naval War College in the then USSR, Defence Services Staff College at Wellington and Army War College at Mhow.

His appointments included tenures on Indian naval ships -- Taragiri, Atul, Rajput, Ranvijay and Command of Ships Vibhuti and Kuthar, Commissioning Executive Officer of Guided Missile Destroyer INS Delhi and Commissioning Commanding Officer of Guided Missile Frigate INS Beas.

His staff appointments at Naval headquarters included Joint Director of Staff Requirement and Director Naval Operations.

During his training assignments, he was the Executive Officer at Naval Academy in Goa and Instructor at ASW School, Kochi. He has also been the Aide-de-Camp to the President of India between 1983 and 1985.





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