Walk out in Kerala assembly over boat tragedies

March 5th, 2012 - 2:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, March 5 (IANS) The opposition Left Monday walked out of the Kerala assembly following the denial of an adjournment motion to discuss two deep sea boat tragedies in as many weeks that left five fishermen dead.

Leader of opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, before leading the opposition out, said the two Italian Marines who allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen in the Feb 15 incident were being given VIP status.

“There are so many Indians languishing in jails abroad and you just see the two Italians who are murderers being put up in guesthouses and given five star food to eat. Why is this happening” asked Achuthanandan.

Seeking leave for the motion, veteran CPI-M leader P.K. Gurudasan also accused the Oommen Chandy government of taking a soft attitude towards the Italian Marines.

“Is it because the two accused are Italians that your knees shiver and you don’t take forceful action against them? Do you know, yesterday the Italian deputy minister arrived in a taxi and without informing anyone and was trying to meet the family of one of the fishermen who was shot dead? How can such a thing happen,” he asked.

“Also, there is a discrepancy in the location of the ship when the firing took place. In the FIR it is mentioned as 33 km, while in the remand notice of the two marines it is mentioned as 22.5 km - this is a ploy to weaken the case,” said Gurudasan who hails from Kollam, from where the five dead fishermen hail.

The Feb 15 incident took place when security officials on board an Italian vessel shot dead two Indian fishermen. The second incident took place March 1 when a ship rammed into a fishing boat, leaving three dead, two missing and two injured.

Chandy hit back at the opposition, saying there were three incidents that took place when the Left ruled the state from 2006 to 2011.

“In 2008, off the Kannur coast a ship rammed into a boat which left one fishermen dead and two injured. The ship was let off after they deposited Rs.25 lakh and do you all know it was a Chinese ship,” said Chandy.

In 2010, again off the Kannur coast, a ship rammed into a boat, leaving two fishermen injured, and a case was not even registered, said Chandy.

“In 2010, at Kollam, a person died when a ship hit a boat and all that the fishermen got was Rs.3 lakh as compensation. But in the Italian case, we have proceeded with caution. As a state government we have done everything possible, with nothing left to chance,” said Chandy.

He said later in the day, a high-level meeting of the navy, director general, shipping, coast guard and several departments would be held to discuss the issue of strengthening coastal security.

“After that, we will meet representatives of fishermen. We have already decided to increase the number of coastal police stations from the present eight to 18 and they will be equipped with men and machines.

“The government is committed and I assure the house that the security of our fishermen is uppermost in our scheme of things,” added Chandy.

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