Edit: For a detailed response to Praveen Swami’s piece of the Coast Guard and the Pakistani Boat, read this
First a few facts. Facts which are undeniable, no matter which narrative you choose, the one published by the Coast Guard via its press release, or the one which is being spread by some Journalists:
1. A Pakistani boat was intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard based on Intelligence inputs on 31st December 2014.
2. The boat caught fire and sunk in the Arabian Sea, approximately 365 kilometer South-West of Probandar, Gujarat.
3. The incident took place around the new year’s eve, and it came to light after a government press release issued yesterday i.e. on 2nd January 2015.
Now we first turn to the Coast Guards version, as per their official Press Release. The release says, based on the input that a boat was planning some “Illicit activity”, they first located the Pakistani boat by air, and then sent a Coast Guard Ship to intercept it. The Coast Guard asked the boat to stop, but the boat chose to speed away. This led to a hot pursuit chase. The boat had 4 men on board, who eventually hid themselves in the lower deck and set the boat on fire, which resulted in a major explosion. The boat eventually sank in the wee hours of 1st January.
Now, let’s be clear on a few things. Neither the Coast Guard nor anyone in the government claimed that this boat was an attempt at terror attack yesterday (today, BJP President Amit Shah claimed that it could be a “possible” attempt, but he doesn’t represent the government. But most importantly, Shah said it “today”. We are talking what happened yesterday).
Despite the government or the Coast Guard not putting any “terror” motive to the boat, hours after the press release was put out, Indian media went berserk. While some in the media chose to glorify the Coast Guard for averting a 26/11 scenario, some journalists started imputing motives to Coast Guards.
The press release had made it clear that the Coast Guard and intelligence agencies were indulged in finding more details, and thus they were not making any certain claims. But when did our journalists love “details”? They were quick to throw insinuations based only on the press release.
This journalist from India Today declared that Coast Guard had indulged in “fake encounter”:
The Pak fishing that “set itself on fire” ! How mysterious. Reminds me of some of the typical ‘encounter’ stories. pic.twitter.com/8X4WZSJwlL.
— Manu Pubby (@manupubby) January 2, 2015
This journalist from NDTV put a question mark on the press release just because of the phrase:
I am curious how MoD says that the Pak boat was going to do “some illicit transaction in Arabian Sea”. Illicit like terror or gambling?
— sunetra choudhury (@sunetrac) January 2, 2015
And the most disappointing and shocking spin came from Praveen Swami of The Indian Express, who wrote an article on the same evening as if time was running out and heavens will fall if he didn’t come up with his half baked conclusions and theories.
Swami, almost behaving like Subramanian Swamy, declared that there were “mounting doubts” over “terror claim”. Read his article here that he wrote last night. The inaccuracies start from the headline of the report itself.
Swami’s headline reads: “Doubts mount over India’s claims of destroying ‘terror boat’ from Pakistan”. Did India ever claim to “destroy” a boat? Did they ever claim that the boat was a “Terror Boat”? The press release nowhere says the Coast Guard “destroyed” a boat, neither is the word “terror” ever mentioned. It just clearly says “Illicit activities” and that the boat had explosives. We wonder who gave this information to Mr Swami that “India claims to destroy a terror boat”.
In the first line of this article, Swami again reiterates that “the Coast Guard destroyed a boat”, and there is a link to an earlier article on The Indian Express, to sort of back this claim. The title of this earlier article says ” Pakistani boat blows up”. In the first para it says “its four occupants blew it up”.
STILL, Mr Swami, in his post, goes on to say that the Indian Coast Guard “Destroyed a boat”. Dear Mr Swami, where did you infer this from? Did you have any live feed to this incident? How can you say that a boat was “destroyed” by the Indian Coast Guard, thus disputing the official version that it blew itself up, WITHOUT providing a shred of evidence?
There is no harm in having a different view as compared to the official version. But if you have another theory, and you are going to publish it via Mainstream Media, you better have facts or proofs to back your claims, not just “sources” or conjecture. We think Mr Swami and his friends have a lot of answering to do, but who will ask the questions?