A 20-year-old woman undergoing Agniveer training in the Indian Navy allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself in her hostel room in Mumbai on Monday, the third recruit under the controversial scheme to die since last month.
The woman, identified as Aparna V. Nair from Kerala, was undergoing training at INS Hamla in Malad for the past 15 days after completing her basic training, the police said.
Sources said no suicide note has been found.
The police have registered an accidental death report and a probe is on.
“An unfortunate incident of unnatural death of Aparna V. Nair, Agniveer Logistics, age 20, has taken place at INS Hamla, Mumbai, on November 27. An inquiry has been ordered by the Indian Navy,” the defence PRO in Mumbai said.
“The Indian Navy extends heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family,” he added.
The Agnipath scheme was launched by the Narendra Modi government in June last year, triggering protests across the country. Under the scheme, soldiers are recruited in the army, air force and navy on a short-term contract for four years and are not entitled to gratuity or pension. The scheme is meant for recruiting soldiers, not officers.
The soldiers recruited under the Agnipath scheme are known as Agniveers.
On October 22, Agniveer Gawate Akshay Laxman, who was deployed at the Siachen glacier, the world's highest battlefield, died in the line of duty, the army had said. The exact details behind the death of Laxman, a resident of Maharashtra, is still not known.
Some veterans had then questioned the deployment of Agniveers in treacherous terrain and asked the government to consider the training of the youths in all weather conditions.
On October 11, Agniveer Amritpal Singh shot himself dead during sentry duty. Singh, who hailed from Punjab, was serving with a battalion of the army's Jammu and Kashmir Rifles unit in the Poonch sector.
The army's refusal to give a military funeral to Singh had triggered a controversy. The Aam Aadmi Party had said it was shocking that Singh's family would neither be entitled to pension, nor had he been accorded the status of a martyr.
Soon after Agnipath was introduced last year, several prominent army veterans had castigated the Modi government for the "ill-thought-out" scheme, launched with the apparent motive to cut the ballooning salary and pension bills of the armed forces. They had alleged the scheme would adversely affect the efficiency and effectiveness of the military as it was not in keeping with the erstwhile military traditions and ethos.
They had also questioned the professionalism and preparedness of soldiers with a four-year stint, arguing that it takes at least seven-eight years for an infantryman to become an experienced battle-hardened soldier and three-four years for recruits to learn the basic ropes of soldiering.