Representative Image | Photo: ANI
New Delhi: Three officers of the Indian Air Force were sacked on Tuesday for the March 9 accidental firing of a BrahMos missile that landed in Pakistan.
An official statement said the services of the officers were terminated after a Court of Inquiry (CoI) found that deviation from the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) by them led to the accidental firing of the missile.
Following the incident, the Defence Ministry described it as "deeply regrettable" while Pakistan lodged a strong protest over it.
"A BrahMos missile was accidentally fired on March 9. A Court of Inquiry (Col), set up to establish the facts of the case, including fixing responsibility for the incident, found that deviation from the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) by three officers led to the accidental firing of the missile," the statement said.
"These three officers have primarily been held responsible for the incident. Their services have been terminated by the central government with immediate effect. Termination orders have been served upon the officers on August 23," it said.
Though the Indian Air Force did not mention the ranks and names of the officials whose services have been terminated, it is learnt that a Group Captain is among the three.
The incident had taken place on March 9 and Pakistan had lodged its protest with India the next day.
On March 11, the Defence Ministry said the missile was fired accidentally and it landed in Pakistan.
The ministry had said then that it was caused by a technical malfunction in the course of the routine maintenance of the missile, adding the government has taken a serious view of the incident.
Separately, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Parliament on March 15 that SOPs for operations, maintenance, and inspection of such systems were being reviewed.
Following the incident, Pakistan summoned India's Charge d'Affaires in Islamabad and conveyed its strong protest over the "unprovoked" violation of its airspace by the supersonic "projectile" of Indian origin.
Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, the Director-General of the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) of Pakistan, said the unarmed projectile entered the Pakistani airspace travelling 124 km.
The Pakistan foreign office said the "super-sonic flying object" entered into Pakistan from India's Suratgarh and fell to the ground near Mian Channu city, causing damage to civilian property.
The Pakistan foreign office also called for a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident and demanded that its outcome be shared with Islamabad.