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Coast Guard officer’s boast on Pakistani boat to be probed

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Bengaluru/Ahmedabad, Feb 18:

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said he will enquire into a Coast Guard officer’s statement – captured on video – that he ordered a Pakistani boat allegedly trying to sneak into Indian waters be blown up. The officer Wednesday did a volte-face and denied making the statement.

Manohar Parrikar
Manohar Parrikar

“I will enquire,” said Parrikar who is in Bengaluru for the Aero India.

“I will go through the video,” he added referring to a video on the Indian Express website which shows Coast Guard Deputy Inspector General (DIG) B.K. Loshali saying he ordered the blowing up of a suspected Pakistani boat on the intervening night of Dec 31 and Jan 1 off Porbandar in Gujarat.

Parrikar told reporters here that he will take a look at the controversial video and then “take action if required”.

The suspicious boat was intercepted by the Coast Guard based on an intelligence input Dec 31, and it was traced in the Arabian Sea, 365 km off Porbandar in Gujarat.

The dramatic incident was a reminder of the manner Pakistani terrorists sneaked into Mumbai in 2008.

The vessel, which had set off from near Karachi on New Year’s Eve, turned into a ball of fire and sank after its occupants, believed to be four in number, apparently set fire to it early Jan 1.

Parrikar said: “You have to understand my position. There are 15-16 lakh service personnel, if someone makes a statement which is factually incorrect I will take action after enquiring into it.”

The defence minister said “I will release evidence” of the incident.

Parrikar spoke just hours after Loshali refuted media reports that said he ordered the blowing up of a suspected Pakistani boat.

Addressing a press conference in Ahmedabad, Loshali said media reports quoting him as saying that he ordered that the suspected boat be blasted were wrong and not factual.

“The operation was not handled by me. I was not fully privy to it,” he told reporters.

However, the Indian Express Wednesday put up a video on its website of Loshali speaking at the launch of an interceptor boat in Surat Feb 16.

The little over a minute long video shows the senior Coast Guard officer saying: “I hope you remember 31st December night.”

“We blew off the 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.”

In early January, Parrikar had said that the people of a Pakistani vessel that blew up and sank off the coast of Gujarat were “suspected terrorists” and did not appear to be smugglers.

He also confirmed that another boat was also traced but it was in international waters. IANS