This is a Hamletian dilemma facing External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, which he could have done without. The choice couldn’t be more agonising. The US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has conveyed her “personal condolences and deep regrets” — not Barack Obama’s or Hillary Clinton’s yet — for the Indians killed and maimed off the UAE coast by the US Navy last Monday. Even as Sherman spoke, Pentagon spokesman George Little insists in delightfully vague language that “at this stage”, Pentagon’s “belief” is that “warning measures we undertaken” before the US Navy opened fire on the Indians.
Both Sherman and Little maintain that investigations are under way. While, 28-year old Muthu Muniraj who was shot at and is recovering on a hospital bed in Dubai insists there was no warning from the US ship
In the normal course, our government’s choice would have been straightforward — believe Sherman and promptly repatriate Muthu to his fishing village on the Coramandel coast, and thereupon, close the file in the best interests of the India-US’equal partnership’.
But politics apart, what complicates matters is that Muthu has an unlikely partner — Dubai’s police chief General Dahi Khalfan. The plucky Arab general is inclined to agree with Muthu’s testimony
that the US Navy did commit a cold-blooded murder. “indian fishermen were not warned to move away by the US Navy,” he told Khaleej Times.
Now, what does MEA do? Await the UAE government’s report, as Krishna pleaded? That is going to be problematic. Because, the US ship has swiftly and surreptitiously disappeared from the scene
of the crime, sailing away into the deep blue waters presumably into the safety of the nearest US naval base. In all likelihood, we have heard the last word about USS Rappahannock. Even if there is going to be a shooting war between the US and Iran, it is improbable Rappahannock will reappear in the Strait of Hormuz.
The point is, Rappahannock disappeared without reporting the crime to the UAE authorities, as they were expected to do under conventions — if not plain decency. So, how do UAE authorities conduct the inquiry and report back to Delhi?
Alright, they have filed a criminal case, which is the maximum they can do as a self-respecting, sovereign country, which is apparently not liking a bit of what has happened — which makes them look small in the Arab eyes. But what about India’s self-respect? To be sure, some answers are overdue from our government.
Posted in Diplomacy, Military, Politics.
– July 21, 2012