Italian ship firing unacceptable: G K Vasan

Chennai: 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.

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".

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.