Safety, security of missiles most important, says Rajnath Singh
The Centre informed Parliament that a “high-level inquiry” has been ordered into the March 9 incident of the “inadvertent” release of a missile from India into Pakistan’s territory.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the incident happened during routine maintenance and inspection at around 7 pm.
Singh said that the government attached “highest priority” to the safety and security of weapon systems, and also said that the missile system is “very reliable and safe”.
“It was later learnt that the missile had landed inside the territory of Pakistan. While this incident is regretted, we are relieved that nobody was hurt due to the accident,” Singh said.
The Minister said that the government has “taken serious note” of the incident and ordered a formal high-level inquiry for determining the exact cause of the incident.
Singh said that to ensure such incidents can be prevented in the future, a review of the SOPs for operations, maintenance and inspections is being conducted in the wake of this incident.
“We attach the highest priority to the safety and security of our weapon systems. If any shortcoming is found, the same would be immediately rectified. I can assure the House that the missile system is very reliable and safe,” Singh said.
Singh added that the 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,” he said.
India had said on Friday that it accidentally fired a missile that landed in Pakistan and that the “deeply regrettable” incident was caused by a technical malfunction in the course of its routine maintenance.
The Pakistan military on Thursday said that a high-speed projectile launched from India entered the Pakistani airspace and fell near Mian Channu in Khanewal district.
The Defence Ministry said the Government of India has taken a serious view of the incident and ordered a high-level Court of Enquiry into it.
“On March 9, in the course of a routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile,” the Defence ministry said in a statement.
“It is learnt that the missile landed in an area of Pakistan. While the incident is deeply regrettable, it is also a matter of relief that there has been no loss of life due to the accident,” the statement added.
While Pakistan said that it was not satisfied with India’s “simplistic explanation” and demanded a joint probe, the US has said that there is no indication that it was anything other than accidental.
“We have no indication as you also heard from our Indian partners that this incident was anything other than an accident,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Monday.