India's Deputy Inspector General of the Coast Guard on Wednesday denied reports which said that he had admitted to have ordered for a Pakistani boat to be blown up in the Arabian Sea on New Year's eve, a report published on the Times of India website said.
A report published on the Indian Express website, earlier during the day, had quoted Coast Guard DIG B.K. Loshali as saying “Let me tell you,” he said, “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…”
The claim in the Indian Express report was in sharp contrast to New Delhi's official position which had been adamant that the boat had 'suspected terror links' and that the crew had committed suicide by setting the vessel on fire.
A video circulating on social media corroborated the report published on the Indian Express website and shows the DIG Coast Guards making the above mentioned statements during the launching ceremony of a boat.
Loshali later issued a rejoinder which rejected the media report terming it as 'not factual' and denied making any such claim.
India to probe officer's claim that coast guard blew up boat
India's defence minister said Wednesday he will investigate the coast guard officer's comment that Indian coast guards had destroyed a Pakistani “terror boat” late last year, contradicting the ministry's position that the men on board had blown up their own boat.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the ministry stood by its statement of early January that the boat had been destroyed by the men on board. Parikkar said he would discipline the officer if an inquiry proved he had made the remarks.
Indian officials had earlier claimed that Coast Guard ships and aircraft had tried to intercept the boat near the maritime border with Pakistan, around 365 kilometres from the coastal state of Gujarat, following an intelligence tip-off.
The claim had added that the boat initially tried to escape but was forced to stop after warning shots were fired, following which crew members set the boat on fire which led to the explosion.
After the boat had sunk, the Indian Coast Guards were praised by their Defence Minister for what he called doing "the right thing at the right time" — based on "clear, specific Indian intelligence".
There had been suggestions that the vessel seemed to be on a routine smuggling trip when it was intercepted. Further doubts had been raised over the official version of the episode with many questioning the capability of the small boat to outrun Indian interceptors.
India duplicitous in bid for peace: Khawaja Asif
Pakistan reacted sharply to the disclosure of Indian DIG Coast Guard BK Loshal's statement that the attack on the Pakistani boat on 31 December was carried out by the Indian Coast Guard.
"It has once again been proven that India has violated international rules and disregarded the humanitarian considerations," Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said in a statement.
The defence minister called upon the international community to take notice of the incident, which, it has been said, is tearing off India’s veil of being a peaceful country in the region.
The minister went on to say that India not only imposed baseless and false allegations on Pakistan before like in the case of Samjota Express, but were involved in treacherously killing four innocent lives on board this boat.
"India has once again proved to be heinous in its face, design and urge for peace," Khawaja Asif remarked.
Asif said that Loshali has contradicted the Indian government’s statement by saying that the Pakistani boat was attacked by Indian Coast Guard.
Loshali was quoted as saying: "We blew off that Pakistani boat. We have blown them off…I was at Gandhinagar and I was told at night, blow the boat off".
The defence minister reiterated that Pakistan’s desire for peace and coexistence in the region must not be seen as our weakness.