The Centre faces troubling questions over the destruction of a boat in an explosion off the Gujarat coast on New Year’s Eve after a video emerged showing a Coast Guard official saying he had ordered the blowing up of the boat. On Wednesday, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the official would be investigated for wrongdoing and indiscipline if he had misspoken, but continued to maintain that the boat was blown up by persons travelling in it. “The Defence Ministry stands by what it has stated in writing to you…,” he told a press meeting in Bangalore.
On New Year’s Eve, the Coast Guard claimed to have intercepted an explosives-laden boat from Pakistan off the Gujarat coast. In a statement, the Defence Ministry said the four occupants on board refused to cooperate after being intercepted and blew up the boat.
But the statement of B.K. Loshali, Deputy Inspector-General, Coast Guard, that he had ordered the blowing up of the boat has sparked a storm for the government. “I hope you remember 31st December night… we blew off that Pakistan… We have blown them off… I was there at Gandhinagar and I told at night, blow the boat off. We don’t want to serve them biryani,” he is seen saying in a video accessed by a newspaper.
India levelled baseless charges: Pakistan
Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday issued a statement criticising India on the boat incident.
“India not only levelled baseless allegations against Pakistan, but also claimed four innocent lives,” he said.
Mr. Asif said reports that the boat had exploded in international waters showed disregard for international law. However, the Indian Coast Guard distanced itself from the comments made by the official in the video.
‘Quoted out of context’
The official, DIG B.K. Loshali, told The Hindu that he believed his comments were quoted out of context.
“I said that national security is our prime concern and during an international event like this we will not treat them as a guest and serve biryani…I did not even handle the operation,” he said.
In Delhi, the Congress demanded that the government come out with a full explanation of the conflicting statements on the issue concerning national security.
Under pressure, Mr. Parrikar said he will order an inquiry, adding, “If someone tomorrow makes a statement which is incorrect at the most, you are making a case of a disciplinary proceeding against him. At the most if you prove that he has made a statement, you are making a case of taking action against him. It does not change the ground reality.”