No laxity, only cautious steps in Italian ship shooting: Chandy

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Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Saturday denied the state and the central governments were lax in taking action against the Italian cargo ship crew who shot dead two Indian fishermen in the waters off the Kerala coast.

Faced with a volley of questions as to why no action had been taken for four days after the ghastly incident, Chandy shot back by asking to reporters here, "Do you think they (the shooters) are free now?"

"This is an incident that has taken place in our country for the first time and because of that, we have been very cautious in taking every step in this regard. This is a very serious issue and because of that, we are moving very carefully to see that the law takes its course in the most proper manner," said Chandy.

Two fishermen, Ajesh Binki (25) from Tamil Nadu and Gelastine (45) from Kerala, were mistaken as pirates and shot dead by the crew of an Italian cargo vessel Wednesday evening about 14 nautical miles off Alappuzha.

According to officials from the Italian embassy in New Delhi, navy personnel on board the 'Enrica Lexie' fired warning shots after they were allegedly attacked in international waters by people on an Indian fishing vessel.

"The Italian ship crew claim that this happened in international waters, but we have not accepted that. Instead, we are in the process of getting all the documents to put our case forward in the most strongest way," Chandy said.

"We are in constant touch with the centre and are keeping them informed of every move that we are making here. I can assure everyone that the culprits would be brought before law and our police have already registered a murder case against the Italian ship officials. Please bear with us because technically the ship is in our custody," added Chandy.

He denied as baseless the statement that Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi has appeared for the Italian ship crew in a court.

"Yes, a section of the media has been trying to do their best to plant baseless stories with regard to this and I can assure you that no such thing has happened," said Chandy.

Kerala's Director General of Police Jacob Punnoose also spoke tough and pointed out that once the crime is proved, the arrest would soon follow.

Meanwhile, a team of top police officials led by Additional Director General of Police P.Chandrasekharan is soon to leave to meet the crew and officials who are on board the vessel currently berthed at the Kochi Port.

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