CHENNAI: Close on the heels of the Indian High Commission asking the Malaysian police to investigate the death of a 19-year-old trainee-sailor from Madurai, following a request by Commissioner of Rehabilitation (NRT) here, his parents are now allegedly being pressured by the institution - where he was a trainee - and the agency in Malaysia not to press for an inquiry into his death.
R Vignesh, a engine cadet in Jams Marine College in Thoothkudi district, was on an on-the-job training, along with his Kerala batchmate Nikhil Silvi, for 12 months when both died after allegedly inhaling poisonous gas from the tank of ship ‘Cara USIA’ owned by Nasinar SDN BHD on February 4.
According to Anuradha S, attache (Labour), Indian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur, the Commissioner of Rehabilitation (NRT) Chennai, conveyed on February 13 that the family of the deceased prefers a probe, as they are suspicious about the death.
“The High Commission had forwarded the request to the police in Sarawak, Eastern Malaysia to conduct the probe. In such cases, police have to make it clear that they do not require the mortal remains of the deceased for further investigations. The High Commission will be in a position to make arrangements for sending the mortal remains only after obtaining police clearance,” the official stated in a mail to Express. She added that the process of securing a death certificate takes around two weeks, in case the post-mortem is not done within seven days of the death. The High Commission is in touch with Malaysian authorities to ensure that the requirements are waived off for the issuance of the death certificate.
“The issuance of death certificate has to be complete so that the Mission can issue the ‘No Objection Certificate’ to send the mortal remains from Malaysia. Since it is a national holiday on account of the Chinese New Year, Malaysian offices are closed for two days from Thursday,” she added in her mail.
A copy of the same mail was also sent to the family by the Indian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur after which members of the family started receiving telephone calls from Jams Marine College in Thoothkudi as also from Wilson Agency in Malaysia, allegedly asking them not to press for police investigation into the death. What is surprising was that the deceased’s family even got the transportation schedule of Vignesh’s body from Wilson Agency. “The body is to be transported from February 19 to Mumbai by MH194 and from there by Air India flight to Madurai,” Vignesh’s parents said.
The institute ‘Terrence’, which had allegedly asked Vignesh parents to deposit `2.20 lakh to an account given by the institute in Thoothkudi, later denied it had a role in providing on-the-job training to Vignesh. The institute asked the parents as also the village president not to press for a police enquiry as it would delay the handing over of the body. “If you don’t withdraw the police complaint, then the institution won’t be able to help you in bringing the body back,” an official of the institute told the family.
When Express contacted the captain of the institute, he again said the college had nothing to do with Vignesh. When queried on why he telephoned Vignesh’s parents, he said, “ my conscience pricked. Si, I called his parents. we never put any pressure on them,” he added.
“When the High Commission has given us the details, why is the institute and the agent asking us to withdraw the complaint? That too, to take back the body,” wondered the parents, who also are demanding a compensation for the death of their son.