Even as the debate continues on whether the boat that exploded off the Gujarat coast on 31 December was a 'terror' boat or not, protesters sporting saffron scarves burnt photos of Indian Express' National Editor,Strategic and International Affairs Praveen Swami outside the daily's New Delhi office.
This, after Swami, in his article, 'Doubts mount over India’s claims of destroying ‘terror boat’ from Pakistan' on 2 January in The Indian Express argued that the crew of the boat may not have been suspected terrorists as claimed by the Defence Ministry.
An ANI report on Monday quoted one of the protesters as saying, "How can he say something like that? He is talking like one of the people from other side of the border. You live in India and write against it; we are not going to tolerate that. We will teach him a lesson."
While Swami had argued there may have been 'use of disproportionate force', the Defence Ministry had said that said it was confirmed that it was a terror attack.
The Defence Ministry in a statement had claimed that the Coast Guard ship had warned the fishing boat to stop for further investigation of the crew and cargo after an intelligence tip off. However, the boat increased its speed and tried to escape from the Indian side of the maritime boundary. The hot pursuit continued for nearly one hour and the Coast Guard ship managed to stop the fishing boat after firing warning shots.
Swami said in his article that, "new evidence has begun to emerge that those on board 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."
Four persons were seen on the boat who allegedly disregarded all warnings by the Coast Guard ship to stop and cooperate with investigations.
However, it was not just Swami's article, DNA too had reported that intelligence officers were confused by why the boat was chased in the first place. The DNA report said, "According to UN convention, a nation can chase or intercept suspicious vessels if they prohibit the passage of the host nation's passage or if they (suspicious vessels) loiter above or under the surface of the sea. That was not the case here, officials say."
The Pakistani fishing boat said to be carrying explosives was intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard off the shores of Gujarat in a midnight operation in the high seas on New Year's Eve, but the vessel exploded and caught fire before sinking along with four occupants.
The incident, which occurred some 365 km off the coast of Porbander, generated strong speculation that it was another attempted attack of the kind Mumbai witnessed in 2008, when 10 terrorists landed in South Mumbai from the sea and killed over 160 people at the Taj, the Trident and the CST train terminus.
While Pakistan rejected such reports, the Defence Ministry said they had received intelligence information that helped them intercept the boat.
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Updated Date: Jan 06, 2015 11:27:29 IST