Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Wednesday that the government would take concrete steps to ensure the safety of fishermen at sea in view of repeated incidents of firing at them by foreign ships.

He would convene a high level conference of coast guard, navy and officials of police and fisheries departments to review security. Ministers concerned would also be present. Discussions would be held with organisations of fishermen too.

Briefing the media on the decisions of the Cabinet meeting here, the Chief Minister said that a feeling of insecurity had spread among fishermen following the killing of two fishermen by marksmen from Italian ship last week and earlier incidents. “Certain incidence of violence and attempt to violence from foreign ships had occurred in the past too.”

The Chief Minister said that it had become clear that the action taken against Italian marines under Indian laws (including their arrest) was fully correct. “We have acted from within the confines of the law.” The State had the full support of the Centre in this regard. The fishermen were killed without any provocation and the situation would be handled with all the seriousness that such an incident called for.

Mr. Chandy said that the government would also take the lead in securing compensation to the families of the victims. “The action taken by the government is just and legal. None of Italy’s arguments is acceptable to us. The Centre has supported our stand and this would be communicated to the visiting dignitaries from Italy by the Centre.”

To a question on the reported statement of George Cardinal Alencherry that the row over the arrested Italians should be settled amicably, the Chief Minister noted that the Church authorities had denied that. The Cardinal had not taken up the issue with any of the Ministers. Now that the statement had been refuted, there was no point in raking up a controversy over that.

Compensation for victim

He announced that the wife of the dead fisherman Valentine (alias Jelestine) would be given a job in the Fisheries Department. There was no request for job from the dependents of Ajesh Binki from Tamil Nadu who was also killed in the incident. Kerala would provide Binki's family legal help for securing compensation, if the family preferred to avail the State’s help.

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