Terming as "unfortunate" the killing of two Indian fishermen by gun shots from an Italian ship, Shipping Minister G K Vasan on Saturday said appropriate punishment should be given to the guilty.
"It is a very unfortunate incident. Italian arm guards fired (at) Indian fishermen. This is not acceptable," Vasan told reporters in Chennai, when asked to comment on the incident near Kerala.
Observing that Director General, Shipping, has ordered an enquiry into the incident, he said it was internationally well-known that when there is a piracy attack, certain protocol should be followed. "It was not followed here. Enquiry will reveal (what happened). Appropriate punishment should be given (to those guilty) as per the law of the land," he said.
Vasan said there was a suspicion as to why the Italian ship did not report the incident on time. "I am sure proceedings will take place. There is no pressure from Italy. Our fishermen lives are very important".
Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Saturday said firing by armed guards on-board an Italian merchant ship killing two Indian fishermen off the Kollam coast was "cold-blooded murder" and legal action would be taken against the crew of the merchant vessel responsible for the attack.
"Strict legal action will certainly be taken against the guilty," he told reporters after a meeting of the United Democratic Front meeting in Tiruvananthapuram.
Chandy said he had held discussions with Advocate General K P Dandapani on the issue.
"Timely action has been taken against the ship. The Coast Guard had traced the vessel 'Enrica Lexie' within hours of the incident and the ship has been brought to Kochi port," he said.
Welcoming the stand of the Union government in the issue, the chief minister said the state government was constantly in touch with the Centre.
Two Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki, 25, and Jalastein, 45, were killed on February 15 off the Kollam coast near Kerala when armed guards of Italian ship 'Enrica Lexie' fired at their boat.
The preliminary assessment of the marine authorities is that the armed guards aboard the ship might have fired at the fishing boat mistaking it for a vessel belonging to pirates.