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India removes coast guard officer who contradicted gov’t

February 25, 2015
Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar gestures to a journalist during a press conference at the Aero India 2015 at Yelahanka air base in Bangalore, India, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. Parrikar said he will investigate a senior officer's comment that an Indian coast guard vessel had destroyed a Pakistani "terror boat" late last year, contradicting the ministry's position that the men on board blew up their own boat. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

NEW DELHI (AP) — A senior coast guard officer was reportedly removed from his post after he contradicted the Indian government and said coast guard personnel had destroyed a Pakistani “terror boat” last year.

Press Trust of India quoted unnamed coast guard officials as saying Tuesday that the removal of B.K. Loshali as chief of staff in the northwest region was a routine matter while his comments were being investigated.

The Defense Ministry said it stood by its version of events. The ministry has said the four men aboard the fishing boat stocked with explosives blew it up themselves as Indian coast guard officers approached on New Year’s Eve.

Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar also said Loshali would be disciplined if the inquiry proved he had made the remarks.

Earlier this month, Loshali said he told his men to “blow the boat off. We don’t want to serve them biryani,” referring to a rich rice dish served at festive occasions.

The remarks caused an uproar and Loshali later backtracked, saying his comments, delivered during a speech in the state of Gujarat, had been misquoted. The Indian Express newspaper then released a recording of the speech that included the comments.

The controversy is likely to cast a shadow over the already fraught relations between India and Pakistan.

India has been more aggressively monitoring its marine borders since Pakistani gunmen in 2008 attacked the city of Mumbai, killing 166 people. The gunmen had slipped into the city by boat from the Arabian Sea.

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