A deputy inspector general of the Indian Coast Guard has said it was the coast guard which blew up the Pakistani boat on the night of December 31, 2014 contradicting the government's stand that its crew was responsible for the explosion, the Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
Till now the ministry of defence, defence minister and the coast guard have maintained that it was the boat's crew that had set it on fire or were responsible for the explosion that destroyed the vessel 365 km off Porbandar after an hour-long chase by a coast guard ship on New Year's Eve.
"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 Express quoted DIG BK Loshali, who is also chief of staff (northwest Region), as saying.
According to the Express, Loshali was speaking on Monday at a gathering of officials from the coast guard and Larsen & Toubro during the launch of a coast guard interceptor boat, designed and built by L&T, 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".