The Coast Guard on Wednesday denied controversial newspaper reports which quoted a deputy inspector general as claiming he gave orders to blow up a Pakistani boat which infiltrated into Indian waters on new year's eve.
Coast Guard deputy director general KR Nautiyal said he has received a written statement from DIG BK Loshali, that he did not subscribe to what was reported in the Indian Express.
Loshali too rejected the report at a press conference in Ahmedabad saying, "I do not subscribe to the report. The operation was not being handled by me. I was not privy to it completely. I reiterate the boat set herself on fire and was not sunk by Coast Guard."
The newspaper had quoted DIG Loshali as saying he ordered the boat to be blown up, a claim which flew in the face of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's statement then that Pakistani militants on the boat blew it up after being cornered by Indian forces.
"Let me tell you. 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 report quoted Loshali as saying.
According to the Express, Loshali, who was head of operations in the northwest region was speaking on Monday at a gathering of officials from the coast guard during the launch of a coast guard interceptor boat in Surat.
Coast guard DIG Sudhir Sahni, in-charge of refit and production and G Sethy, deputy commandant, who are based in Surat, were also present at the gathering, the English daily said.
The defence ministry and the coast guard have said the Pakistani fishing boat, later identified as Qalandar, was in the sea for an "illicit transaction" and had blown itself up.
"The Coast Guard ship warned the fishing boat to stop for further investigation of the crew and cargo; however, the boat increased speed and tried to escape away from the Indian side of maritime boundary. The hot pursuit continued for nearly one hour and the Coast Guard ship managed to stop the fishing boat after firing warning shots. Four persons were seen on the boat who disregarded all warnings by the Coast Guard ship to stop and cooperate with investigation. Soon thereafter, the crew hid themselves in below deck compartment and set the boat on fire, which resulted in explosion and major fire on the boat," the defence ministry had said in a release on January 2.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar had said on January 5 that "circumstantial evidence" indicated the Pakistani boat had suspected terror links. Parrikar had said he would classify them as "suspected or possible terrorists" as the suicidal act of setting the boat on fire after being intercepted showed that they were "committed" and indicated suspected terror link.
"A normal boat, even carrying some drugs, can throw away their drugs and surrender. No one is going to kill himself unless you are motivated enough to do that."
Pakistan had rejected India's allegations about the boat as "baseless and preposterous".