After a soldier of the Special Armed Force (SAF) died purportedly of thirst in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday, his family and the opposition Congress in the state blamed his fellow soldiers of leaving him behind in the jungles.
Sachin Sharma, part of a team combing the dacoit-infested Chitrakoot forest in Madhya Pradesh's Satna district, was found dead in the forest on Sunday. A senior official had said that his condition had earlier worsened due to thirst.
Sources said the team ran out of water as they had consumed it to deal with the humid conditions in the forest. One of the members of the search team was allowed to leave after he complained of chest pain.
Madhya Pradesh Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh said, "They left him alone. I think there was no such incident like this before. A constable died because he was dehydrated and thirsty. It's shameful for the government."
"I have asked for information. Only then will I be able to tell you exactly what happened. We will take action if needed," Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said.
The team had gone into the forests on Thursday after being tipped off by villagers about the presence of dacoits, Umesh Joga, Inspector General of the region, said.
"After the search operation, the condition of three jawans, including Sharma, worsened due to thirst as conditions were humid. The remaining team members left the three under a tree to fetch water and reached Bagdhara Post", Mr Joga said.
"Police teams fanned out in the area but could not find him for two days. On Sunday evening, Sharma's body was recovered from the jungle in Batohi area," Mr Joga said. He said that exact cause of death would be known after the postmortem report.
"His friends took his rifle and reached the camp. They should have stayed there and communicated his health condition to the concerned officials. It seems they were simply not bothered, they should have been questioned," said Palu Sharma, a relative of Sachin Sharma.
Mr Sharma's family performed his last rites in his village in Madhya Pradesh's Bhind district with state honours.
(With inputs from PTI)