India on Friday said the firing by armed guards on-board an Italian merchant ship killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala, was “against the laws and norms” and the guilty will be punished.
“We are taking this issue very seriously. What happened was against the laws and the norms. The guilty will have to be punished,” Defence Minister A.K. Antony told reporters here.
Underlining that India wanted to send “strong signals” on the issue, the minister said, “This is not only for India but for all others. Everybody should follow the norms and the laws.”
He was asked about the steps being taken by the government to book the guilty in the incident.
Mr. Antony said the Kerala police and the Indian Coast Guard were questioning all the people involved in the case and it would be “inappropriate” for him to comment further on the incident.
The two fishermen, native of Alappuzha, were killed on Wednesday night when armed guards on-board the Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexie opened fire on their fishing boat.
The vessel was brought to Kochi on Friday and police and Coast Guard personnel were questioning the crew. The ship has been berthed at Kochi oil terminal, where security has been tightened.
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.
Italian Consul General in India, GiamPaolo Cutillo, was in Kochi on Thursday in connection with the incident and had met the city Police Commissioner there.