All conspiracy theories now stand unfounded

For the Oommen Chandy government, which has been at the receiving end of relentless battering from the Opposition in the Assembly over the past few days — even as it nursed some of the self-inflicted injuries of the past few weeks, nothing could be sweeter than the return of two Italian marines Massimilano Lattore and Salvatore Girone to stand trial in India for the killing of two fishermen off the Kerala coast last year.

The collective sigh of relief is almost audible in the corridors of power here. For, the return of the Italian marines not only vindicates its stand on the issue, but also clears the air vitiated by innuendos about the ‘Italian connection’ of the Congress party.

Even as late as Thursday, media reports seemed to suggest that the marines were not about to return to India and that they would be tried only in their homeland. The Italian government’s decision to send them back has proved all consequent conspiracy theories unfounded.

‘Collective victory’

‘‘This is the collective victory of the Central and State governments and the Supreme Court, all of which took a firm stand on the return of the marines,’’ Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan told The Hindu. Although the Opposition and many others were unwilling to believe its commitment to bring back the marines, the State government had remained firm and told the Centre that there could be no other option other than the Italian marines standing trial under the Indian laws. Although the Union government concurred with it and took diplomatic measures to achieve that goal, what proved decisive was the firm stand taken by the Supreme Court, Mr. Radhakrishnan said.

All options

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in a letter the other day that the Union government would explore all diplomatic and legal options to ensure that the two marines were brought back to India. He had also made it clear that if the Italian government did not comply with India’s demand, it would result in souring of relations between the two countries. While this in itself was a shot in the arm for the UDF government, the arrival of the marines so soon after receipt of the Prime Minister’s letter has brought some justifiable cheer among the UDF leaders and the families of the two fishermen who had lost their lives.

All eyes would now be on the course the case against the two marines takes and the legal conundrums that would have to be resolved before the case reaches an appropriate conclusion under the Indian laws.