Coast Guard DIG B K Loshali has been sacked for passing remarks that contradicted the government’s stand over the sinking of a Pakistani boat off the Gujarat coast last New Year’s eve, officials said.
Sources told The Indian Express that the officer is likely to approach the Director General (DG), Coast Guard, for a judicial review of the decision.
A Defence Ministry official said that Loshali was dismissed from service by a five-member General Court Martial (GCM) in Mumbai, which found the officer guilty of contradicting the government’s version on the boat. Apart from losing his job, the decision means that Loshali may also lose all retirement benefits.
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“Loshali is no longer in Coast Guard service. He was dismissed on Saturday evening,” said the official.
“However, under judicial review, the Coast Guard DG can either confirm the decision of the GCM or rule against it. The DG also has the powers to soften the punishment by keeping the pension benefits unaffected even while confirming the dismissal,” the official said.
If the DG rules against him, Loshali has the option of approaching a civil court to challenge the decision, sources said.
On February 16, while <a href=”http://” target=”_blank”>addressing a gathering of Coast Guard officers and Larsen & Toubro officials during the launch of an interceptor boat, Loshali had referred to the Pakistani boat and said: “Let me tell you. I hope you remember 31st December night. I was there at Gandhinagar and I told at night, blow the boat off. We don’t want to serve them biryani.”
Loshali’s remarks were in contradiction to the statements made by the Ministry of Defence, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and the Coast Guard, saying that the boat’s crew were responsible for the explosion that destroyed the vessel 365 miles off Porbandar after an hour-long chase by a Coast Guard ship.
Government officials had later identified the purported Pakistani fishing boat as Qalandar and said that they had information to indicate that it was due for an “illicit transaction at sea”.
After Loshali’s remarks were first reported by The Indian Express on February 18, the officer claimed he was misquoted. This newspaper subsequently released a video of his speech following which the Coast Guard issued a showcause notice to the officer, giving him 48 hours to reply. His reply was “found unsatisfactory”, leading to the Board of Inquiry.
In May, The Indian Express reported that the probe against Loshali, carried out by the three-member team, had found “substance to believe” that he had contradicted the government’s stand that the boat “blew itself off”.