With tension simmering between India and Italy following Rome’s refusal to send back the two marines facing trial in India, the Italian embassy has issued an advisory suggesting its citizens to be “vigilant and cautious”, particularly to those travelling to Kerala.
“In connection with any protests, especially in the state of Kerala, related to each of the two sailors, it is recommended to compatriots in maintaining an attitude always vigilant and cautious and stay away from any crowds,” said the advisory issued on Saturday. The advisory came days after the Indian government hardened its stand.
The entire gamut of bilateral issues between Rome and New Delhi is being reviewed at the moment to decide the future course of action. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) gave hints of downgrading its diplomatic relations with Italy. The Ambassador-elect for Rome has been asked to stay put in India.
“We have initiated a study which reviews in a comprehensive manner all aspects of the bilateral relationship,” said the MEA spokesperson.
But since Italy is a key business partner, it is not clear to what extent New Delhi can crack the whip. Bilateral trade is expected to touch 15 billion Euros with major focus on infrastructure.
India also relies heavily on two Italian arms manufacturers, Finmeccanica and Fincantieri.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir had issued notice to the Italian Ambassador and the two marines to respond within March 18 after Attorney General G E Vahanvati brought the issue before it, pointing out it was a breach of undertaking given to the highest court of the land and the government was extremely concerned.
On February 22, the apex court permitted the two accused to travel to Italy for a period of four weeks from the day of their departure based on the sovereign assurance given by the Italian ambassador. The decision came under sharp criticism from several quarters, including the principal opposition the Bharatiya Janata Party.