New Delhi, May 30:
A 30-year-old IAS officer drowned in mysterious circumstances in a swimming pool here while allegedly trying to rescue a woman colleague who had fallen into the water, police said. But his family said they suspected foul play.
Ashish Dahiya, 30, a resident of Sonepat in Haryana, drowned in the swimming pool of the Foreign Service Institute at Ber Sarai in south Delhi during a Monday night party attended by around 30 young officers, police said.
“A woman officer accidentally fell into the pool and many officers, including Dahiya, jumped into the pool to rescue her,” Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Chinmoy Biswal said.
“The lady officer was safely pulled out but Dahiya went missing… He was then seen floating,” he said. Dahiya was rushed to the Fortis Hospital where doctors declared him dead.
Dahiya’s father Narender Singh insisted that his son could not have drowned. He alleged foul play and demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“My son has swum five to eight kilometres in the Bhakra Nangal Dam in Himachal Pradesh during his police training,” Narender Singh told IANS.
He said his son was an experienced swimmer and that he couldn’t drown in a swimming pool.
Dahiya’s cousin Surender Dahiya also told IANS: “Ashish was a good swimmer. We can’t believe he drowned in a pool. There is some problem.”
The family alleged the CCTV at the club of the institute was not functional when the tragedy took place.
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences where Dahiya’s autopsy was done said they would submit the report to police by Tuesday evening.
Police are waiting for the report to ascertain whether the young officer had consumed excess alcohol or any drugs.
“The cause of the death will be clear once we get the autopsy report as no visible injury mark was found on the body. We are in the process of questioning his friends who were with him yesterday (Monday) night,” a senior police officer told IANS.
Police are probing if there was a brawl at the party.
Police officers had earlier mistakenly described the dead man as a trainee IAS officer.
Dahiya was a former Deputy Superintendent of Himachal Pradesh Police and had also worked as Assistant Commissioner in the Indian Revenue Service.
According to his cousin, Dahiya was to take a flight from Delhi on Wednesday to take up his assignment in Jammu and Kashmir.
Dahiya had come here from Sonepat on Monday evening to meet his friend Abhimanyu Gahlaut at the institute, a family member said.
One of the guards at the Foreign Service Institute told IANS that there used to be security at the pool but this had been discontinued.
“Now there is an instructor who comes from 6 to 8 a.m. every day. For the rest of the time there is no one to monitor people at the pool,” said the guard who was not ready to share his name.
The guard said it were the students at the institute who took Dahiya to the hospital at around 1 a.m on Tuesday morning.
“During his police training, he had won a gold medal in swimming. We cannot understand how he could drown,” said his uncle.
Singh said the family has demanded a “satisfactory” autopsy of Dahiya. If not satisfied with the Delhi Police probe, he would approach the Central Bureau of Investigation, he said.
But the police don’t suspect any foul play. “Doctors have told us and Dahiya’s family that he died of drowning as water had entered his respiratory organs. There were no external injuries on his body,” said Ishwar Singh, DCP (South).
The officer said that a three-member board conducted the post-mortem and the entire procedure was videographed.
The gates of the institute remained closed on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the news of Dahiya’s death has sent shockwaves across bureaucrtic fraternity. Expressing grief, his batchmates remember him as a vibrant, fun-loving offcer.