India on Wednesday defended its action sinking a 'mother' pirate ship which was actually a hijacked Thai "fishing trawler" as well within the requisite "rules of engagement", as Bangkok took up the matter with New Delhi seeking "clarifications" over the incident.
With the action by Indian Navy's "INS Tabar" on November 19 off the Somalia Coast coming under scrutiny after the identity of the vessel was known on Tuesday, Naval Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta suggested it was unavoidable since the frigate in self-defence was responding to threats by pirates on the trawler which was hijacked a few hours earlier.
Naval sources maintained the warship had acted against a "pirate" vessel on the high seas and was "convinced" about it.
In Bangkok, Thai Foreign Ministry issued a note verbale to the Indian Embassy asking for certain "clarifications" over the incident, sources told PTI, a day after a Thai company Sirichai Fisheries claimed the sunken ship belonged to it and not to pirates.
Lending weight to the fishing firm's claims, the International Maritime Bureau, Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre, confirmed that the sunken vessel belonged to the Thai company.
"The Indian navy assumed it was a pirate vessel because they may have seen armed pirates on board the boat which has been hijacked earlier," said Centre's head Noel Choong.
The Thai government asked India to furnish information as to how and why they acted against the ship which sunk after firing by INS Tabar off the Somali coast, the sources said.
"The Indian Embassy has passed on the Thai request to the Ministry of Defence," they said.
"There were pirates on board, they had taken over, they were in command of that ship. They were threatening the warship and therefore certain action had to be taken," Admiral Mehta told CNN-IBN.