CISF men ready to fight; govt still confused

Even as a fresh batch of specially-trained Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) commandoes gets ready to take up a new assignment, the Union Home Ministry’s proposal to station armed guards on cargo ships has hit bad weather over the need to  legally examine operational safeguards required, post the incident of Italian marines killing Indian fishermen.

The training of the first batch of 150 CISF commandoes with the help of the Navy, which began sometime in October, finished in February. The Ministries of External Affairs and Law, which were supposed to finalise standard operating procedure (SOP) for the armed guards posted at the ships, have so far not come up with any such blueprint, CISF sources said.

The SOP was supposed to have been formed taking into account international laws as well, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which India is a signatory.

It is learnt that the UPA government is waiting for the outcome of a petition pending with the Supreme Court on the Italian marines shooting dead two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala last December, which sparked off a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

The apex court’s view on the complex issue, when the Italians accused the New Delhi of slapping murder case on their marines despite the shooting taking place in international waters, will have to be woven into any guideline for the paramilitary personnel.

Sources said that the file pertaining to the guidelines is still pending with the Law Ministry.

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