A Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of the Coast Guard on Monday stirred a controversy when he said that it was the Coast Guard which blew up the Pakistani boat on the night of December 31, 2014. And that he was the one who ordered: “Blow the boat off…We don’t want to serve them biryani…”
His statement was directly in contradiction with the government which has maintained that the boat had blown itself up under suspicious circumstances. It is the latest addition to a mystery surrounding the Pakistani boat which blew off 365 miles off Porbandar after an hour-long chase by a Coast Guard ship on New Year’s Eve.
Here is a timeline of news events leading up to the DIG’s remarks:
December 31, 2014: The government said in an official statement that “an intelligence based midnight operation” was conducted on the night of December 31 Thursday by Coast Guard ships and aircraft “to intercept a suspect fishing boat” in the Arabian Sea near the Indo-Pak maritime boundary, approximately 365 km south-west of Porbandar. But the boat’s four occupants blew it up after a nearly hour-long chase, the government said.
January 2, 2015: New evidence with Indian Express points to the fact that those on board the boat might have been small-time liquor and diesel smugglers, ferrying bootleg cargo from the port of Gwadar to other fishing boats which were to have carried it into Karachi’s Keti Bandar harbour.Highly-placed government sources said that the National Technical Research Organisation had intercepted mobile phone traffic involving small-time smugglers operating out of the fishing port of Keti Bandar, near Karachi.
January 5, 2015: Highly-placed police sources said that investigators in Karachi have identified the fishing boat destroyed on New Year’s Eve during an Indian Coast Guard operation as a vessel allegedly linked to a drug mafia based in Pakistan.
January 6, 2015: The Coast Guard tracked the Pakistani boat for 18 hours before its ship closed in with 23 personnel on board, one of whom shot video and photos of the drama with the foreign vessel finally going up in flames and sinking without a trace, a top Coast Guard official told Express. Shots were also fired from a Light Machine Gun (LMG) onboard ICGS Rajratan to warn the crew of the Pakistani vessel and prevent them from fleeing to international waters, the official said.
January 7, 2015: The Navy said it was “kept in the information loop throughout” the Pakistani boat episode that unveiled on the night of December 31 and that it responded appropriately along with Coast Guard. Breaking its prolonged silence on the matter, the Navy, in an official statement said it is the “nodal agency for overall maritime security of the nation” and that “Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard have responded appropriately to the situation as per the standard operating procedures.”
January 12, 2015: The Home Ministry said intercepted conversation between those onboard the boat and those in Pakistan were not “friendly”. “There were intercepts and the intercepts were not friendly,” Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami told reporters here when asked about the intelligence inputs about the Pakistani boat.
January 13, 2015: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar suggested in a television interview that the vessel’s crew may have taken cyanide before setting their ship on fire to destroy evidence about their intentions. Responding to a question on the boat’s occupants, Parrikar said: “How do you know they died (due) to the burning? They can take a cyanide pill and burn the boat.”
February 18, 2015: Directly contradicting the government’s position, a Deputy Inspector General of the Coast Guard said Monday that it was the Coast Guard which blew up the Pakistani boat on the night of December 31, 2014. And that he was the one who ordered: “Blow the boat off…We don’t want to serve them biryani…”
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