Says Congress is being targeted in the marines’ issue

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has alleged that vested interests are working overtime to put the Congress in the dock over the latest development in the Italian marines issue.

Inaugurating a district-level working committee meeting of the party organised by the Kollam District Congress Committee (DCC) here on Friday, the Chief Minister said the State government had taken a strong stand on the issue soon after the killing of two fishermen by the marines and the Central government had strongly backed the State government.

He said that Italy had cheated the Supreme Court by refusing to send back the marines. And the ruling Congress party is being targeted for this. But at any cost, it will be ensured that the Italian marines will stand trial on the Indian soil on the charges of killing the two fishermen.

He said that any attempt by Italy to frustrate the Congress and the State and Central governments would not succeed. As per an undertaking given to the Supreme Court, the marines have time till March 23 to return. The Attorney General has brought the seriousness of Italy’s stance to the attention of the apex court and now the Italian Ambassador has been told not to leave the country.

This is the rarest of rare developments in diplomatic relations between two countries. “The State government is fully satisfied with the Central government stand on the issue,” Mr. Chandy said. The people, he said, should know the real face of those who target the Congress on the issue. When the Left Democratic Front was in power in the State, three ships caused harm to fishermen off the Kerala coast. In one incident, the ship could not be traced. In another, the ship was identified but could not be intercepted. In the third incident at Thalassery, the ship was intercepted at Vizhinjam. But after getting a bond of Rs.25 lakh, the ship was let off. Only Rs.3 lakh was paid as compensation to the family of the victim.