Update as of 4.00 a.m. EST: After a senior official of the Indian Coast Guard denied making statements attributed to him in a report by The Indian Express, the newspaper on Wednesday released a video of him making the comments.
The official had earlier stated that a Pakistani fishing boat, which sank in suspicious circumstances in early January, was sunk by the coast guard on his orders and not by people on board the boat as was originally claimed by the Indian government. Following the video's release, India’s Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar reportedly said that his ministry stood by its earlier statement and that the Indian government would release evidence to substantiate the claims.
Parrikar also said that the government would initiate an inquiry into Loshali's alleged comments and take action "if required."
Update as of 12:00 a.m. EST: A coast guard official has reportedly denied the report. B K Loshali, a deputy inspector general of India's Coast Guard, had reportedly said that he did not order that the boat be blown up and reiterated that it set itself on fire.
The Indian Express newspaper on Wednesday cited a senior coast guard official as saying that he had ordered the boat to be blown up. The latest comments have been attributed to B K Loshali, a deputy inspector general of the coast guard, who was reportedly speaking in the presence of other officers of the agency. The newspaper said his comments were recorded.
“Let me tell you,” the Indian Express cited Loshali as saying, “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 official's comments contradict what India's coast guard and defense ministry have so far said. The vessel with four people on board sank after an explosion triggered by a fire below deck, the coast guard said, in a statement released on Jan. 2. The boat was believed to be from a port in western Pakistan and was intercepted about 220 miles from India's western coastline in the state of Gujarat.
“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 Coast Guard ship managed to stop the fishing boat after firing warning shots,” the coast guard had said in the statement at the time. “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 Indian defense ministry has not yet reacted to the newspaper report.