A three-member Indian Coast Guard Board of Inquiry (BoI) has indicted Coast Guard DIG B K Loshali for his public remark on February 16 that he had ordered the Pakistani boat to be “blown off” on the night of December 31-January 1.
Highly placed sources told The Indian Express that the probe had found “substance to believe” that Loshali made the remark.
On February 18, The Indian Express reported Loshali’s speech, where he claimed that he had made a call to the Commanding Officer of ICGS Rajratan, telling him to blow up the Pakistani boat, off the coast of Gujarat.
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Addressing a gathering of Coast Guard officials and staff from Larsen & Toubro during the launch of Coast Guard interceptor boat ICGS C-421, designed and built by L&T, Surat, Loshali had said: “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.”
There was an uproar after The Indian Express reported the speech, along with the tape of the event, which contradicted the official version of the incident. Loshali also issued a statement denying the report.
“Whatever has been reported by The Indian Express is not factual. I have not made this statement, however I had made a statement that anti-national elements do not need to be served biryani and to be handled as per law of the land,” he had said.
But, according to sources, Loshali told the BoI that “whatever I said that day (on February 16) was wrong”. When contacted on Thursday, Loshali said, “I will respect whatever is the verdict of the BoI”.
Loshali is currently based in the Coast Guard’s Gandhinagar regional headquarters, after he was transferred from the position of Chief of Staff, North West region command.
The probe report, including statements of witnesses, commanding officers in Coast Guard who were part of the operation and Loshali, was submitted last week to the coastal agency’s headquarters in New Delhi.
“The BoI took two extensions as statements of several persons needed to be recorded. The headquarters will now decide on the action to be taken, including the possibility of a court martial,” said sources.
According to sources, the board summoned several witnesses, including the commanding officer of ICGS Rajratan. “The BoI had several terms of reference including if Loshali did made the remarks. It found that the tapes submitted to them had edited cuts. They later procured the original footage from the event organisers. The original footage showed that Loshali did make the comments. Loshali was then asked to submit his version,” highly placed sources told The Indian Express. “Witnesses present at the event confirmed Loshali’s comments and authenticated the tape,” added the sources.
The BoI, headed by a senior Coast Guard official, was asked to probe the entire episode, starting from the night when the Pakistani boat “set itself ablaze” to the public event where Loshali made the comment.