The killing of two innocent fishermen by the Italian mariners in the fringes of Indian territorial waters is a grave situation. It is clear that the mariners have not tried to check whether the people on the boat were fishermen or pirates. At the time of shooting, nine out of the eleven fishermen were
sleeping and it is reported that the Italian mariners were addicted to liquor and were not in a capacity to follow the required procedures before commencing an action.
The incident itself is a setback to the efforts to eliminate the Somalian pirates from the Indian seas. The incident shows that national governments like Italy are sending security people without giving enough training on how to behave on territorial waters.
This type of an irresponsible maritime action from the Italian side is not an isolated one. Two months back, Francesco Schettino, an Italian captain has abandoned his ship Costa Concordia escaping to the shore and leaving many of his passengers to death. Mr. Schettino was later arrested.
The captain of Costa Concordia as well as the mariners who shot the innocent fishermen is now a burden for the international community, if it is not for their country. The need to bring the mariners in front of law is necessary to ensure India’s territorial seas are safe for the fishermen and their livelihood activity. Italy should train its mariners to be better behaved than the Somalian pirates in the seas.
The Italian media has launched the typical western campaigns at the earliest and writing their own stories, depicting the unarmed Indian fishermen as pirates. This is indeed a historical coveted practice adopted by the western media to protect the criminals if they belong to their country. In the pre-independence period, the British news papers have collected money from its subscribers for the extradition of General Dyer; who ordered the massacre of nearly 2000 people at Jalianwalabagh.
The incident leaves many strategic lessons for the country as well. There is an invisible law that India’s strategic interest extends from the straight of Malaca to the Persian Gulf. It is the responsibility of the country to ensure safe waters in this stretch. If every country is sending own security team with their ships, they should be trained enough to follow international laws and procedures. In this respect the current row itself will set precedence and India should not be soft on dealing with the issue.