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India’s missile system ‘very reliable, safe’, Defence Minister tells Rajya Sabha after missile ‘inadvertently’ fired into Pakistan

Rajnath Singh informed the House that the government “has taken serious note of the incident” and a “formal high-level inquiry has been ordered” which will “determine the exact cause of the said accident.”

Written by Krishn Kaushik | New Delhi |
Updated: March 16, 2022 1:15:26 am
Rajnath Singh, India Pakistan, Rajya Sabha, parliament, India misile in Pakistan, India news, Indian expressRajnath Singh in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. (ANI)

The government has taken serious note of the incident of an Indian unarmed super-sonic missile being “inadvertently” launched on March 9, which landed in Pakistan, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament Tuesday. Singh also assured the House that India’s missile systems are reliable and safe, and the incident is being investigated.

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Making a statement in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday morning, Singh said, “During routine maintenance and inspection, a missile was accidentally released at around 7 pm. It was later learnt that the missile had landed inside the territory of Pakistan. While this incident is regretted, we are relieved that nobody was hurt due to the accident.”

Singh informed the House that the government “has taken serious note of the incident” and a “formal high-level inquiry has been ordered” which will “determine the exact cause of the said accident.”

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“I would also like to state that a review of the Standard Operating Procedures for operations, maintenance and inspections is being conducted in the wake of this incident. We attach the highest priority to the safety and security of our weapon systems. If any shortcoming is found, the same would be immediately rectified,” he said.

He also assured the House that “the missile system is very reliable and safe”. “Moreover, our safety procedures and protocols are of the highest order and are reviewed from time to time. Our Armed Forces are well-trained and disciplined and are well experienced in handling such systems.”

The incident was brought to public attention by the Pakistani military on March 10, when it mentioned in a press conference that an Indian missile had landed 124 km inside Pakistani territory the previous evening. It mentioned that the missile had launched from Sirsa and was moving southwest towards India’s Mahajan firing field when it suddenly turned northwest and entered Pakistani airspace before landing near Mian Channu Mian Channu in the Khanewal district.

The missile, the Pakistani military said, was super-sonic, travelling at 2.5 times to 3 times the speed of sound, was cruising at an altitude of 40,000 feet and posed a danger to passenger aircraft. Nobody was hurt by the missile, but it did damage a wall where it landed.

Pakistan had summoned India’s envoy on March 11, and demanded that both countries should jointly probe the incident.

Admitting the incident for the first time on March 11, the Defence Ministry said in a statement that “in the course of a routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile”. As Singh said on Tuesday, the statement had mentioned that the government “has taken a serious view and ordered a high-level Court of Inquiry.” It had stated that while the incident is “deeply regrettable, it is also a matter of relief that there has been no loss of life due to the accident.”

While neither side has identified the missile, according to the description shared by Pakistan, it was India’s super-sonic surface-to-surface version of the BrahMos cruise missile, which is developed jointly with Russia.

India and Pakistan have a 2005 agreement to share advance information about tests of ballistic missiles, however, the agreement is not applicable for tests of cruise missiles.

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