The government finds itself on an awkward spot in the incident involving the killing of an Indian fisherman and causing injury to 3 other Indian fishermen by the United States Navy. It sheepishly asked the UAE government to look into the matter — although the US had already admitted the incident.
This becomes a test case of the External Affairs Ministry’s steely resolve in the recent months to go to any extent to safeguard the welfare and security of Indian nationals — popularly known as the ‘Krishna Doctrine’.
Already the government is adopting double standards. In a similar incident involving Italian Navy personnel in February, MEA brusquely turned down Rome’s plea for a joint investigation and insisted on prosecuting the culprits (who were detained and are still in Kochi on bail). The Italian foreign minister came to Delhi pleading, Rome sought Vatican’s intervention, but MEA said ‘Nyet‘.
Finally, according to the latest reports, the Italian government has been compelled to appeal to the Supreme Court. Yet, India has merely asked UAE to conduct an investigation rather than demand that the US should hand over the personnel involved in the criminal act.
The incident seems to have taken place in the UAE territorial waters. MEA should have at least taken pre-emptive action and demanded that the UAE authorities detained the US vessel. (This is what we did to the Italian vessel, although it was in the international waters.)
We can’t have one Krishna Doctrine for Italy (and Denmark) and another for the US. The US statement on the subject is perfunctory. The writing is there on the wall. Most certainly, the US vessel will sail away and that will be the last we heard of this matter.
The US will never allow its military personnel to be tried in India. If there is any doubt, ask Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
So, what do we do now? The decent thing will be to let the Italian navy personnel go home, too.
– July 17, 2012