Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the incident when an Indian missile breached Pakistani airspace and landed near Mian Chunnu city in Pakistan’s Punjab province occurred because of an “inadvertent release of a missile during inspection”.
Making statements in both houses of Parliament, Rajnath Singh said that the government had taken serious note of the incident on March 9 and had ordered a formal high-level inquiry into the incident. He added that the exact cause of the inadvertent firing would be determined by the inquiry.
Assuring members of Parliament that India attached the highest priority to the safety and security of its weapon systems, Rajnath Singh admitted that if any shortcomings were to be found “the same would be immediately rectified”.
Rajnath Singh also disclosed that a review of the standard operating procedures for operations, maintenance and inspections is being conducted in the wake of this incident.
The Minister sought to assure Parliament that the missile system was reliable and safe. Said the Minister: “Moreover, our safety procedures and protocols are of the highest order and are reviewed from time to time. Our Armed Forces are well-trained and disciplined and are well experienced in handling such systems.”
As reported by Frontline, the Ministry of Defence had issued a statement (https://frontline.thehindu.com/dispatches/indian-ministry-of-defence-orders-a-high-level-inquiry-into-the-accidental-firing-of-a-missile-that-breached-pakistani-airspace-on-march-9/article38453457.ece) on the firing of the unarmed missile into Pakistani airspace. Though there is no official confirmation, military experts, basing their judgment on the specifications furnished by Pakistan, strongly believe that the missile was the indigenous Indo-Russian supersonic BrahMos missile.
The missile was unarmed and, according to a statement from Major General Babar Iftikhar, Director-General of the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) of Pakistan, the high-speed flying object was picked up inside the Indian territory by the Air Defence Operation Centre of the Pakistan Air Force and caused “no loss or injury to human life”.
Taking a dim view of the incident, Pakistan had said that the supersonic flying object had entered its territory from the Indian side at Suratgarh in Rajasthan and fell to the ground near Mian Chunnu city around 6.50 p.m. local time.
India’s Charge d’Affaires (CDA) was also summoned by the Pakistan Foreign Office and a strong protest was lodged over the “unprovoked violation of its airspace by a supersonic flying object which was of Indian origin.”
Pakistan has also demanded a joint probe into the incident, saying that the internal court of inquiry ordered by India was not sufficient.