Not ruling out the "sabotage" angle behind explosions on the Indian Navy's destroyed submarine INS Sindhurakshak, Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday said the incident has cast a shadow on the force's capability to safeguard the country's maritime interests.
Giving clarifications in the Rajya Sabha on the August 14 submarine accident, he said the Navy has also ordered a study to assess the status of weapons on board the sunk submarine in view of the fear of any further explosion during salvage operations.
"The Navy has ordered a board of inquiry and it has started with all seriousness. Its terms of reference are to look into all aspects of the causes of this incident and they will be examined by it. Nothing is ruled out. All likely aspects would be examined by the BoI," Antony said.
Several members, including Chandan Mitra (BJP) and Naresh Agrawal (SP) sought to know if sabotage was one of the reasons behind the accident which took place on the eve of Independence Day.
The defence minister said that at the moment, "We cannot say conclusively about the exact cause of the incident. Our armed forces work on a war footing on these aspects and they are also anxious over this issue."
The minister said of the 18 personnel on board the sunken vessel, the bodies of eight had been found till Wednesday and they have been sent to the Naval hospital for postmortem. "Death certificates of eight bodies cite extensive burns as the cause of death."
He said five international and Indian companies are involved in surveying the vessel for salvage and after the vessel is dewatered and brought up, a team of Russian experts would be involved in the investigations.
Image: Vikalp Shah/Reuters