An unarmed supersonic missile “accidentally” took off from Sirsa and landed at a place 124 km within Pakistani territory on Wednesday evening, the Indian Defence Ministry said on Friday, explaining it was “a technical malfunction”.
The ministry in a statement said: “On March 9, 2022, in the course of routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile.”
The Indian government has taken a serious view and “ordered a high-level court of inquiry”.
“It is learned 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,” said the ministry.
Earlier in the day, the Pakistan foreign office summoned India’s charge d’affaires and lodged a protest over what it termed as an unprovoked violation of its airspace. In a statement, it has warned New Delhi of “unpleasant consequences” over what it claims was an Indian-originated, but the unidentified high-altitude supersonic object that crashed in its territory.
In its statement, it has urged India to take effective measures to avoid such violations in the future.
On Thursday, Pakistan claimed a supersonic missile took off from Sirsa and landed within Pakistani territory. The missile was cruising at an altitude of 40,000 feet and endangered passenger flights in both Indian and Pakistani airspace, and also civilians and property on the ground.
Major General Babar Iftikhar, Director General of the Pakistani Armed Forces Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said at 18.43 hours on March 9, “a high-speed flying object was picked up inside Indian flying territory by Air Defence Operations Centre of the Pakistani Air Force. From its initial course, the object suddenly maneuvered towards Pakistani territory and violated Pakistan’s airspace ultimately falling near Mia Channu.”
He was addressing a press conference on Thursday evening on the incident. He said that there were no human casualties. “When it fell it also damaged some civilian property. Thankfully no loss or injury to human life was caused.”
Major General Iftikhar said “initiated requisite tactical actions in accordance” with the Standard Operating Procedures.
“Whatever caused this incident to happen, it is for the Indians to explain,” he said.