Pakistan boat row: India removes Coast Guard official who contradicted govt

BOATNEW DELHI: Indian Coast Guard officer BK Loshali, whose statement had contradicted the government’s version of the explosion of a Pakistani boat on New Year’s Eve, was removed on Tuesday.

A report on NDTV said Loshali has been removed as Chief of Staff at Northwest region and is expected to face an inquiry before the board in Gujarat. Earlier, Loshali said he had ordered an attack on the boat as it approached Indian waters.

A report published on the Indian Express website 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 comment sparked a controversy because it was at odds with the government’s version.

The Indian government had claimed that the Pakistani boat which sank in the Arabian Sea after being intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard had “suspected terror links”.

A suspected Pakistani boat claimed by India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to be on a terror mission exploded in the Arabian Sea on New Year’s eve following a chase, but the Indian Express reported that the vessel seemed to be on a routine smuggling trip when it was intercepted.

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 four people on board had died.

Later Loshali denied reports which said that he had admitted to have ordered for the Pakistani boat to be blown up, a report published on the Times of India website said.

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.

A video circulating on social media corroborated the report published on the Indian Express website and shows the DIG Coast Guards making the above mentioned statements during the launching ceremony of a boat.

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

Pakistan rejects allegations

Pakistan strongly rejected Indian allegations of the so-called “terror boat” and termed reports alleging that the Pakistani boat was on a terror mission “baseless and preposterous”.

“Pakistan is opposed to terrorism in all forms and manifestation and has been the biggest victim of terrorism,” Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said in a statement.

“The people and government of Pakistan are determined to eradicate this menace from our territory,” Aslam added. Agencies

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