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Updated: March 14, 2013 02:56 IST

Ties may suffer, Manmohan warns Italy

    Aarti Dhar
    K. Balchand
Comment (23)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi on Wednesday.
PTI Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Talking tough, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday asked Italy to send the two marines back to India to stand trial for killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast and warned that ties between the countries would suffer if Rome failed to keep its word.

“Our government has insisted that the Italian authorities respect the undertaking they have given to the Supreme Court and return the two accused… If they do not keep their word, there will be consequences for our relations with Italy,” Dr. Singh told Parliament.

Pointing out that the country was agitated over Italy reneging on its promise, an act he dubbed “unacceptable,” Dr. Singh said in the Lok Sabha that the government would work diplomatic channels to bring the marines back. Italy had violated every rule of diplomatic discourse and called into question the solemn commitments given by an accredited representative of its government.

Making a similar statement in the Rajya Sabha, he said the government had made it clear that Italy’s action was “not acceptable.”

“If they do not keep their word, there will be consequences for our relations with Italy,” he said, pointing out that bilateral relationship had to work on the basis of trust.

The Prime Minister impressed upon the members the need for treating this matter with the seriousness it deserved, acting and speaking together as the government pressed ahead with its steps.

Dr. Singh’s response came after the former External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh of the BJP and Basudeb Acharia of the CPI(M) assailed the government.

The Rajya Sabha witnessed uproar as there were demands for the arrest of Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini, who had given a guarantee in the Supreme Court that the marines would return. There was also an adjournment.

Intervening during question hour in the Lok Sabha, Dr. Singh said he shared the members’ concern, and the government was ready for a discussion on the matter as and when they desired.

Mr. Jaswant Singh said it was a “very curious Italian job as the sequence of events makes me wonder where the country is now headed.”

“In a very strange and curious manner,” the marines were granted parole to go home for Christmas. It was a “rather strange” judgment of the Supreme Court that allowed them to go home to vote in the general election.

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What a statement by PM of a sovereign country that ties may suffer as though Italy did not know the consequences of their action. Diploatic ties should be called off and our ambassador should be called back before he is restrained by Italy in retaliation.

from:  MVJRao
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 15:18 IST

Be practical, Italy needs India more than India needs Italy. Tell them in strongest words - return the Marines to face the trial or else no more business with Italy. Our Judges were magnanimous in granting them permission to their homeland to vote, but now refusing to send them back is an act of betrayal and India should respond with strongest terms.

from:  K.J.Haroon Basha
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 12:06 IST

This is a nice idea. If ties with Italy are damaged, then Government may say that it is difficult to pursue the Helicopter scam ! Good thinking PM !

from:  seetharaman
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 11:56 IST

What action the PM is proposing to take which will result in the return
of the two accused to our judiciary? Italy has taken action of not
returning the two accused.Now the people of India expects a very quick
action from the Govt of India.

from:  Narayanan
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 11:37 IST

With the chopper deals mired in corruption issues. The best way to bring the heat down and away from public memory is get the relations strangled, so to say, with this civilian issue. The marines could have just posted their vote for the elections. To send them there was a well thought out plan.
The govt. is probably willing to lose face on this minor issue, rather than kickbacks issue, which may bring the govt down.

from:  Raj
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 11:31 IST

As per Indian Navy sources as reported in many news channels, the
incident occurred in international waters i.e., beyond the 12 nautical
miles territorial waters of India. Hence under the UN Convention on the
Law of the sea (UNCLOS), the matter can't be tried in Indian courts.
Irrespective of the unfortunate fact that two innocent lives were lost,
who now have been compensated, the shooting incident has been
politicized right from the start and shades of jingoism are clearly
visible. Lets take a step back and think - Would India be happy if the
same incident happened involving Indian Navy soldiers? Would we not
demand them back?

from:  sanjay
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 10:55 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should be concerned of the decision of Italy not to send back the Italian marines to face charges for the death of Indian fishermen. It is a political necessity. What India can achieve with strianed relations with Italy is insignificant. When hundreds of Indians, employed by the US at their Teheran embassy, were detained during the occupation of the embassy by the Iranian revolutionaries, including Ahmedineijad, India did not raise any questions with Iran because India was after oil from Iran. The Italian government claims that the attack on the Indian fishermen was in international waters on suspecion of piracy and outside the Indian jurisdiction. Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka keep on arresting Indian fishermen and put them in prison for long periods without any deterioration of international relations. Indian court system is vulnerable for years of litigation. Even the Kerala government claims jurisdiction of the international waters in this case!

from:  Davis K. Thanjan
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 04:40 IST

Actually there is case for murder that India must file in Italian courts.If a treaty to
perform such action is not avaiable ,then use consular protocol to obtain one such
treaty or Italy is liable to UN sanctions. Diplomacy of the highest calibre must be
applied or our Consulate is too lazy to launch such actions. In any case if any
Merchant Seaman is Armed to kill,then there is some thing wrong with World Maritime
Union and ILO .Merchant Seaman are civillians and must not posses fire-arms. There,
it self an Italian Registered ship allowing these workers to shoot ,acts of 'Terrorism'
have been committed against Indian civillians on a legitimate exercise of Fishing as a
trade. This again points to UN sanction on Italy.

from:  austin theodore
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 04:03 IST

The supreme court allowed the accused marines to go to Italy to cast their votes, primarily based on trust. Because of this, the victims' relatives, the Indian government, businesses, and common people are all affected. Time, resources and effort has been and are being wasted. We can only hope judiciary has an internal review process to make sure that this type of mistakes are not repeated.

from:  Prabhu
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 04:00 IST

It looks like a genuine mistake by Italian marines. Over 1,50,000 people
get killed in road accidents alone. This should be treated as another
accident . Govt should take steps to prevent all accidental deaths.

from:  Keshav Rao
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 03:26 IST

When the Italian Government asked for parole for the Marines to go home for Christmas and and also cast their votes,it must have rung alarm bells for our government.The SC and our guys were too trustworthy and accepted the guaranty of their ambassador for their return knowing full well that non-compliance of the promise would not permit of any action against the ambassador who enjoys diplomatic immunity.Now the PM is talking tough,a very curious trait for a normally mild man.It remains to be seen whether he will follow up his threat with action.Incidentally what is the reaction of his party boss?

from:  Raj Kumar
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 02:53 IST

This whole issue is nothing but a "SLAP" on those Indians (and The
Hindu) who were preaching "humanity" when Mr. Narendra Modi said "India"
first! What else do you expect when you elect people who don't give a
heck about its citizens??

from:  John
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 00:58 IST

Good stand by the PM. By denigrating the SC contemptuously , the Italians have compromised the sovereignty of India. Sovereignty is in the first line of our preamble and its non-negotiable. Hence the return of the marines is a precondition.

from:  dodda krishna chaitanya reddy
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 00:57 IST

On March 22 - ensure that the Italian Ambassador is put behind bars for disrespecting the constitution of india and the Supreme Court.
That will be a begining. Then stop negotiatiating with Italy - Ensure the Supreme Court is upheld otherwise there is no meaning to the UPA led MMS Govt and throw them out if they cannot maintain the law of the land.

from:  nsmargasahayamsn
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 00:53 IST

The Union government has clearly missed the thread of the kite.It took
few years even to catch Bitti mohanty ,an Indian accused who escaped
from the hands of justice.What will then happen to foreign accused?.
Could we get back Anderson who was responsible for the bhopal disaster?
The answer is certainly no,so forget about marines also.

The need of the hour is a strong Indian government.

from:  AUTHI SELVAN
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 00:48 IST

I would not blame them. After seeing the cases of Afzal and Ram Singh,
it must have made them think twice. I don't trust this government with
all the corruption cases. But I cannot fathom to understand why our
Supreme Court was so gullible in sending them away however complex the
case may be. They killed innocent people after all. It is a collective
mess at the very top. Disgusted!.

from:  Punith
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 18:54 IST

The due process of law must be established by the Italian government.
If the Italian do not respect, the diplomatic laws than Indian
government must forget the diplomatic immunity and the Italian
ambassador must be brought in to the court of law because he is the
person who has given the undertaking. It is a act of insult to Indian
sovereignty, judiciary and faith.

from:  L K SINGH NAYAK
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 18:52 IST

Some people ask why fault the govt and it's the SC's mistake to let them travel to Italy. The question is what did the govt as the prosecutor of the case do? Did they oppose the bail and travel? If the prosecutor kept quiet then it is the mistake of the central govt.

from:  Mahesh
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 18:42 IST

What Manmohan Singh says, is meant to appease the anger and sentiment of the people. The whole affair is a mess. We will have another scandal, and this will be forgotten soon.

The fact is that everything is broken down. We have criminals in the garb of politicians, people who have never set foot in a school ruling the country, a broken judicial system and endemic corruption.Everything can be bought for a price - be it a college seat or the freedom of a prisoner. There is no safety for anyone in the country, and "might is right". This is something that everyone, including the Italian government knows.

Manmohan Singh can talk of "the damage to Indo-Italian ties, but he knows that no such thing will happen. In the end, it is the people that the government fools by issuing misleading statements.

I am sorry to say this, but only God can save the country, or can he?

from:  Rama Goutharaju
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 18:27 IST

It is unfortunate that we are witnessing the beginning a political / diplomatic drama between the two nations. But, to put things in perspective, we are looking at two action items - Compensation and Justice. Common people cannot wait for compensation and justice to arrive at its own pace. Both Indian and Italian Governments must take immediate steps to at least compensate the families affected.

from:  Siva
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 18:22 IST

Well said but it makes sense only when its actually implemented. This is a serious issue and the Centre needs to take strict actions against the perpetrators. It is not only the question of bilateral ties but the value of human life. Promises and words are meaningless if they lack a will to act timely and justifiably.

from:  Neha Pandey
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 18:14 IST

Call off diplomatic ties with Italy.Close our embassy there and pack off the Italian embassy personnel immediately.No movement of people to and from Italy,and cut off all trade and related affairs.But do the PM has the powers needed,when he cannot even choose his cabinet colleagues is a million dollar question,and a Gordian Knot.

from:  K.Sugavanam
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 15:07 IST

It is laughable. Our PM is just posing. That is all. Indian lives are dispensable.

from:  sankar
Posted on: Mar 13, 2013 at 14:59 IST
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