Police suspect atomic scientist committed suicide


Bangalore : Karnataka police Sunday said they suspect that Kaiga atomic power plant scientific officer Loganathan Mahalingam, 47, had committed suicide by jumping into the swollen Kali river June 8 when he was reported missing.

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“We suspect it to be a case of suicide… by jumping into the river, which has been in spate due to heavy monsoon rains,” Mallapur police inspector K.G. Gaonkar told IANS from Kaiga, about 500 km from here.

“We have registered a case of unnatural death under section 174 Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) after Mahalingam’s decomposed body was fished out by naval divers from the river Saturday night,” he said.

The decomposed body was identified to be that of Mahalingam by his widow Vinayakar Sundari from the clothes he wore and a finger ring after it was shifted to the Kaiga hospital from the river bank, adjoining the township.

“The body has been handed over to the family after post-mortem by a government doctor. The initial report suggests that the death was caused by drowning. Tissue and blood samples have been taken from the body for DNA test in Hyderabad,” Gaonkar said.

A senior police official said it was too early to suspect any foul play, as investigation into the tragic incident was still in progress.

“We cannot say if there was a foul play or not as the case has been handed over to district deputy superintendent of police Babu D. Kolekar at Karwar for further investigation,” Kaiga inspector Vittaldas Pail told IANS.

Six naval divers from the nearby Karwar Seabird naval project joined the search operation Saturday after the state police and forest guards failed to trace Mahalingam in the 100-acre township or the 1,000-acre dense Mallapur forest in the Western Ghats on the west coast.

Sundari registered a missing case at the Mallapur police station after her husband did not return home from his morning stroll in the township on that fateful Monday (June 8).

A senior official of the state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), which runs the 660 MW Kaiga power plant, had clarified that Mahalingam was associated with the simulation training centre and had no access to the core area of the power station.

Mahalingam was “responsible for imparting training in routine operation and maintenance aspects to the plant personnel, which is an educational and skill development function”, NPCIL director for operations G. Nagashwara Rao told reporters Friday, refuting reports in a section of the media that the missing official had access to sensitive nuclear documents.

Rao also said as the Kaiga atomic power plant did not deal with the strategic programme, Mahalingam had no access to nuclear secrets.

Mahalingam, who hailed from Chennai, leaves behind his wife and a daughter, studying in a pre-university course college.

“The family is waiting for Mahalingam’s mother from Chennai to conduct the last rites,” Gaonkar added.