‘Navy sailor who shot himself faced problems due to alcohol abuse’

A day after sailor Melvin Raj allegedly committed suicide aboard warship INS Talwar, his family received a copy of a letter he wrote to his commanding officer. The letter states that Melvin faced punitive action due to his alcoholism.

In his letter, Melvin accepted that he was prone to alcohol abuse and went on to say that he had not touched liquor for two months after the last punitive action against him. However, on New Year's Eve, Melvin went out to celebrate and reportedly drank too much again. This landed him in trouble, as he did not report for duty the next morning.

"Melvin called his parents on January 1, and told them that his ID card had been confiscated by his seniors. He added that he was being treated like a prisoner after the last episode and asked his parents to come to Mumbai. However, he called them again three days later, and told them that the matter was sorted," said Melvin's cousin Selvam Ramakrishnan.

Melvin also alleged that some senior officers in the Indian Navy were targetting him though he was making every attempt to improve, and they would ask him questions that would "irritate" him.

Melvin was taken off the Boat Pulling team, and in his letter, he alleged that he was not being allowed back on the team despite there being no further complaints against him.

Melvin was supposed to leave for his native place in Tamil Nadu on a short leave. However, his leave was suddenly cancelled.

The sailor's family suspects that this aggravated his depression. "We want to know what happened between the time that Melvin's leave was cancelled and the time that he died. We are not sure if it is a suicide," Selvam said.

Melvin's family will claim his body on Tuesday morning.

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