CPI-M demands seizure of Italian ship

Thiruvananthapuram: Charging the Centre and Kerala government with dragging their feet on the killing incident of two fishermen, CPI-M today demanded immediate seizure of the Italian ship and arrest of the crew responsible for the incident.

"Kerala police and the Central authorities have failed to act promptly in the case even three days after the incident," a statement issued by CPI(M) state secretariat said. The contention of the Italian embassy that gun shots were fired at the fishing boat mistaking it to be a pirate vessel was not at all acceptable as the crew of `Enrica Lexie` did not follow the procedures expected of them in such circumstances, it said.

Also, it had become amply clear that the boat, onboard which 11 fishermen set out to sea from Neendakara fishing harbour in Kerala, did not have anything other than fishing implement. So, there was no justifiable reason for the armed guards of the ship to fire at the fishing boat without any provocation, it said. The party also wanted the authorities concerned to launch not only effective legal proceeding against the ship crew, but also take steps to facilitate due compensation to the families of the victims.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran termed as "absurd" the CPI-M`s charge that the Centre was dragging its feet over the episode and said India had already conveyed its concern to the Italian Ambassador. "We will also raise the issue in all international forums," he said.

Speaking to reporters at Mattannoor, about 30 km from Kannur, he said the explanation given by the Italian Embassy over the killings of the fishermen was not satisfactory. "The killing of unarmed fishermen cannot be justified. The Centre will handle the issue with utmost seriousness and priority," he said.