Enrica Lexie verdict leaves fishers enraged

Their organisations say successive Union governments have been favouring the Italian marines

July 03, 2020 11:32 pm | Updated 11:32 pm IST - KOLLAM

India losing jurisdiction over its maritime zones in the Enrica Lexie case has left the fishing community disappointed and enraged.

Calling the verdict an invasion into the rights and dignity of fishers, they say this will set a bad precedence since the shooting happened on the fringes of the territorial waters. “If the incident had occurred in Italy will they let the killers go scot-free? This means our fishers will have to live in perpetual fear, which is unacceptable,” says Peter Mathias, president, All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association.

‘A major setback’

The National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) and the Kerala Swatantra Matsyathozhilali Federation termed the verdict a major setback. “We wanted the Italian marines to be punished as per the law. But from the very beginning, the governments at the Centre have been taking a stand favouring them. They never considered our arguments in the matter, leaving many loopholes in the case,” they say.

The NFF alleges that the Centre had insulted the fishing community by sitting on the verdict for around 40 days before releasing it. “However, the tribune endorsing that the Italian ship had violated national and international maritime laws will serve as a clear warning to foreign fright and passenger ships,” says T. Peter, general secretary, NFF.

Recurring collisions

“The State and Centre should bring an end to the recurring collisions in our maritime zone. The government should not allow shipping channels that cut through fishing areas, thereby affecting the livelihoods of fishers. Most ships pass near territorial waters and the repeating accidents show the inefficiency of the establishments in Kochi and Mumbai that regulate their route. The Coast Guard is also apathetic. The Centre should issue strict directions to the agencies concerned to rectify this,” he says.

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