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.
Loshali later issued a rejoinder which rejected the media report terming it as ‘not factual’ and denied making any such claim.
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.