In a direct contradiction to the Indian government's claim that a "terror boat" had blown itself up near the Indian coast on the eve of the new year, a Deputy Inspector General of the Coast Guard reportedly said that it was actually the Coast Guard that blew up the Pakistani boat.
DIG B K Loshali has now been issued a show-cause notice by the Coast Guard on his statement as reported in media.
The Indian Express reported the development on Tuesday, publishing a video where Loshali said he had given the order for the boat to be blown off. In the video he said, “Blow the boat off…We don’t want to serve them biryani…”
This is contradictory to all media statements made by the Indian government, defence minister Manohar Parrikar, and other agencies. The official version so far had been that the boat had blown itself up after being intercepted by Indian Coast Guard boats, which had intelligence about the boat's terror links.
Parrikar has denied that the Coast Guard had fired at the boat, blowing it up. "The Defence Ministry stands by what it has stated earlier," he said to journalists on Wednesday. "At the most you are making a case of inquiry against the official for making that statement."
Parrikar said that the Coast Guard had denied DIG B K Loshali's statement reported by Indian Express. "We do not have anything new to say on this issue," he said. He also claimed the defence ministry had evidence to support their version of the event.
Loshali himself has now claimed that he was misquoted in the Indian Express report.
The incident had attracted global attention because the terrorists who carried out the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai had come in a boat similarly from Pakistan and because Gujarat was set to host the Vibrant Gujarat Summit with guests from all over the world a few days from the new year.
Parrikar had said in a press conference earlier, "I think they were suspected terrorists, as they committed suicide. A normal boat even carrying drugs can surrender."
"The location was not (a) normal sea route; even the smugglers normally take the busy route so that they can mingle with boats. Pakistan is trying to divert attention after what happened in Peshawar," he had said.
He cited "circumstantial evidence" indicating that the boat had a "suspected terror link." He also lauded the Coast Guard for doing the "right job at (the) right time, based on intelligence inputs."
"The Coast Guard reacted immediately, the boat was on surveillance for 12 hours and it was intercepted as soon as possible," Parrikar told journalists at the time.
Indian Express had earlier raised doubts on the Indian government's version of events that transpired in the "terror boat" incident, for which the paper and its strategic affairs editor Praveen Swami came under widespread attack on social media.
A press statement from the Indian Defence Ministry earlier in january said that this intelligence-based midnight operation was conducted by Indian Coast Guard ships and aircraft.
"As per the intelligence inputs received on 31st December, a fishing boat from Keti Bunder near Karachi was planning some illicit transaction in Arabian Sea," according to the statement. "Based on the input, Coast Guard Dornier aircraft undertook sea - air coordinated search and located the suspect fishing boat."
The Indian Coast Guard had claimed that it had averted a possible terror attack on new year's eve when a suspicious fishing boat was intercepted and chased by them. The boat crew did not surrender, according to the Indian Coast Guard's statement, and instead chose to set fire to their boat, which led to an explosion.
The incident had been reported in the Arabian Sea India-Pakistan maritime boundary, approximately 365 kilometres away from Porbander in the Gujarat coast.