New Delhi: In an attempt to stanch a raging controversy, the government has released a video of a Pakistani fishing boat in flames on New Year’s Eve. The four people on board had died off the coast of Gujarat. The new video does not establish what caused the explosion.
Earlier this week, an officer of the Coast Guard in Gujarat said that he had ordered an attack on the boat as it approached Indian waters. “I hope you remember the 31st December night. We blew off the Pakistan… we blew them off,” BK Loshali, Deputy Inspector General with the Coast Guard, said in a video released by the newspaper, The Indian Express.
The comments commissioned a huge controversy because they contradicted the government’s version. On January 1, the Defence Ministry said that the boat laden with explosives was intercepted by the Coast Guard because it was planning an unspecified illegal transaction. The government statement said the boat ignored warnings to stop and allow a search, and the crew hid below deck before setting the vessel on fire, causing it to explode and sink.
The furore ignited by Mr Loshali’s remarks forced Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to clarify on Wednesday that the government’s stand remains unchanged. He said he would review the video of the Coast Guard official’s remarks, and “take action if needed.”
The officer later said that his remarks had been misconstrued and that he was not in a position to know what happened to the boat because he did not handle the operation.
His written explanation to the Defence Ministry has been rejected as unsatisfactory, said sources.