Silence surrounds the killing of Indian fishermen by Italian ship
Terming as “unfortunate” the killing of two Indian fishermen by gun shots from an Italian ship, Shipping Minister G K Vasan today said appropriate punishment should be given to the guilty.
“It is a very unfortunate incident. Italian arm guards fired (at) Indian fishermen. This is not acceptable,” Vasan told reporters here, when asked to comment on the incident near Kerala.
Union Minister for Shipping, GK Vasan. Image courtesy PIB
Observing that Director General, Shipping, has ordered an enquiry into the incident, he said it was internationally well-known that when there is a piracy attack, certain protocol should be followed. “It was not followed here.Enquiry will reveal (what happened). Appropriate punishment should be given (to those guilty) as per the law of the land,” he said.
Vasan said there was a suspicion as to why the Italian ship did not report the incident on time. “I am sure proceedings will take place. There is no pressure from Italy. Our fishermen lives are very important”.
Two Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki (25) and Jalastein (45), were killed on February 15 off the Kollam coast near Kerala when armed guards of Italian ship ‘Enrica Lexie’ fired at their boat.
The preliminary assessment of the marine authorities is that the armed guards aboard the ship might have fired at the fishing boat mistaking it for a vessel belonging to pirates. When asked about several states opposing the proposed National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Vasan said, “It is necessary to put an end to terrorism in the country. Both the Centre and State should cooperate on this”.
Even Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy took a strong stand on the incident and said, “The killing of fishermen is a cruel incident. We will not let it pass till justice is done. We will not allow the culprits to escape from legal proceedings.”
Chief Ministers of non-Congress and BJP-ruled states and even Congress ally Trinamool Congrees had yesterday raised a banner of revolt against the Centre’s proposal to set up an apex counter-terror organisation, saying it struck at the roots of federalism and usurps states’ powers.
Meanwhile, the Italian ship’s crew has refused to be questioned and say they will co-operate only after discussing the matter with their diplomats. The crew is awaiting the arrival of a high-level team of diplomats from Italy to meet officials in Delhi and then advise them on the next step.
Earlier in the day, sources told CNBC-TV18 that the Prime Minister will be consulted as this was a diplomatic matter. PMO sources confirmed that by Saturday there will be some movement on the matter.
Watch video:Sources say the advice of the MEA will also be sought over the killing of Indian fishermen by the Enrica Lexie crew.