Senior Coast Guard official contradicts Centre’s version in Pakistan terror boat case, later denies
In a major embarrassment to the government, a Deputy Inspector General of the Coast Guard has directly contradicted the government’s version in the controversial Pak boat incident. According to a report published in The Indian Express, the officer claims that he ordered the boat to be destroyed. He is quoted as saying, “Blow the boat off…We don’t want to serve them biryani…”. However, BK Loshali has subsequently denied that he ever made any such claim.
According to statements by the Defence Minister and the Coast Guard so far, the boat’s crew had set itself on fire 365 miles off Porbandar after it was hotly pursued by a Coast Guard team. But DIG BK Loshali has a different tale to tell. He is currently Chief of Staff (North West Region), Coast Guard, Gandhinagar. According to the Express report, at a gathering of coastguard officers, BK Loshali boasted about blowing off the boat. He is quoted as saying, “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…”. Loshali started his speech by saying that he has been given a text, but he will speak from his heart.
When the entire incident came to light, a statement from the Ministry of Defence said that as per intelligence inputs received on December 31, a fishing boat from Keti Bunder near Karachi was planning some illicit transaction in the Arabian Sea.
A coast guard ship warned the suspicious vessel to stop for further investigation of the crew and cargo; however, the boat increased its speed and attempted to flee the maritime boundary. The coast guards operation continued for nearly one hour and the Coast Guard ship managed to stop the fishing boat after firing warning shots.
The four persons on board disregarded warning shots from the Coast Guard and tried to hide themselves in the lower deck of the vessel; thereafter they set the boat on fire, which resulted in an explosion. Ultimately, the boat burnt and sank in the early hours of January 1, including all the people on board who could not be saved or recovered.
The news created a flutter in India’s defence establishment and subsequently Loshali issued a statement denying the Express report. Loshali has said that he was not heading the operation and was not privy to all the information. He reiterated the government’s line in the statement that the boat set herself on fire and was not struck by the Coast Guard. However he acknowledged saying that anti-national elements shouldn’t be served biryani.