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Millennium Post

Def Minister makes big play about how sailors blew boat

Defence minister, Monohar Parrikar has on Monday defended the story put out by his ministry (MoD) on Friday, January 2 that Indian Coast Guard (ICG) vessel had trailed and intercepted a boat within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the country in the high seas. The boat that had apparently originated near a harbour in Karachi had been carrying ‘explosives’, as the MoD release that day headlined, and it blew up after the ICG ship chased and intercepted them.

This has kicked up a storm when it was later revealed by Indian Express on Saturday that these boatmen could be petty criminals. This has spread across the air waves and the newspapers as it has raised serious doubts about the veracity of the MoD account.

In his defence of the first report on the drama, Parrikar has made a big play about how the sailors of the boat blew themselves up, when challenged by the ICG. He told the media on Monday that that why would petty criminals – be they smugglers – blow themselves when the ICG was on their tail. He said in his opening remark on the sidelines of inauguration of a defence estate office: “…[W]hy I will classify them under suspected or probable terrorist is because they committed ‘suicide’ hara-kiri.”

But later in the question and answer, when he was asked whether the government agencies could identify the explosives that were on board the boat, Parrikar said: “I am not speculating that it had explosives. But it has some activity in their mind, which probably does not fit the description of a smuggler.”

Significantly, this crucial withdrawal from a categorical description of Friday’s will obviously add grist to the mill of those who are claiming that the government was blowing up the incident sky high on account of scoring some propaganda points for both, domestic and international reasons.

The domestic reason could be that Friday’s story would prove that how secure the country’s coastal defences have become, especially after the advent of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. Considering that this interception was off the coast at Porbandar, Gujarat, where there is a ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summit this week.

And internationally at a time when the US has suddenly found a lot of common ground with Pakistan, this apparent attempt by Pakistan-based ‘terrorists’ to breach Indian coastal security in the same lines of 26/11, will create an ever small wedge in the re-ignited relationship. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, is expected to attend the business summit in Gujarat.
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