News   /   India   /   Editor's Choice

India sacks military officers for ‘accidentally’ firing missile into Pakistan

Supersonic BrahMos missiles are seen at the parliament house premises for an upcoming exhibition in New Delhi, India, August 1, 2016. (File photo by AFP)

Indian government has sacked three air force officers for the "accidental firing of a missile" into neighboring Pakistan in March.

The episode had escalated tensions between the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbors who have fought at least four major wars since the partition of the British India in August 1947.

On Tuesday, the Indian Air Force said in a statement the officers responsible for the March 9 incident had been terminated from service.

“A Court of Inquiry, set up to establish the facts of the case, including fixing responsibility for the incident, found that deviation from the Standard Operating Procedures by three officers led to the accidental firing of the missile,” the statement read. 

The BrahMos missile, a nuclear-capable cruise missile, was launched into Pakistan's eastern province of Punjab. Its range is between 300 and 500 kilometers, making it capable of hitting Islamabad from a northern Indian launch pad.

Pakistani authorities said the missile had "endangered many passenger and international flights in Indian and Pakistani airspace" as well as "human life and property on the ground."

The incident prompted Pakistan to seek answers from New Delhi. Pakistan’s Foreign Office summoned India’s charge d’affaires in Islamabad to lodge a protest against what it called an unprovoked violation of its airspace. And it warned India “to be mindful of the unpleasant consequences of such negligence and take effective measures to avoid the recurrence of such violations in future.”

Two days after the launch, India’s Defense Ministry said the missile was fired by accident because of a “technical malfunction” during routine maintenance.

The incident also raised questions about safety mechanisms in place to prevent accidental launches or miscalculations.

Military experts have in the past warned of the risk of accidents or miscalculations by the two neighbors, which have fought at least three major wars and engaged in numerous smaller armed clashes.

The arch-rivals have a history of bitter relations mainly over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is divided into two parts between them but claimed by both in its entirety.

Relations between the two countries have been particularly strained since 2019, when Pakistan’s air force shot down an Indian warplane in the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir and captured a pilot in response to an airstrike by Indian aircraft in the northwestern town of Balakot inside Pakistan.

India at the time said its airstrikes targeted Pakistan-based militants responsible for a bombing that killed 40 Indian troops in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Pakistan later released the pilot.

India regularly accuses Pakistan of arming and training militants and allowing them across the restive frontier to launch attacks. Pakistan rejects the accusation.

India and Pakistan have fought four wars since their partition in 1947, three of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku