Italian marines case kept Kerala in news in 2012


The incident of two Italian marines allegedly shooting dead two Indian fishermen off Kerala's coast in February and the subsequent legal and diplomatic issues made headlines throughout 2012, which also saw many developments on the state's political arena.

Coming to power with a wafer-thin majority in 2011, the Congress-led UDF government of Oommen Chandy won two Assembly by-elections held during the year but strutted and fretted on the state's hyper-active political stage often failing to fulfil many of its tall promises.

However, the state's presence in the Central ministry rose to an all-time high of eight with the induction of Shashi Tharoor and Kodikunnil Suresh in the council of ministers in the reshuffle in October. It was a comeback for Tharoor, who had to resign as minister two years ago after being caught in the vortex of a controversy over the Kochi IPL cricket team.

As the politically-volatile state had its usual dose of controversies, the brutal murder of an ex-Marxist T P Chandrasekharan shook the entire state putting main Opposition CPI-M on the defensive as several of its local functionaries figured as accused in the case.

With the monsoon rains falling far short of the normal, the year turned out to be a hard one for Kerala and harder days are in store as it is heading to a grim power crunch and drought-like situation.

The nation was shocked when naval guards Massimiliano Ltorre and Slavotre Girone on Italian ship Enrica Lexie shot dead Valentine Jalstine and Ajesh Pink, who had taken to sea in a fishing boat from the Kollam coast. Acting swift, police took control of the ship and arrested the marines.

Though Italy launched a diplomatic offensive against the arrest of the marines arguing that the incident took place in international waters and, so, they should not be tried in India, the state and Central governments rejected that position. After spending a few months in remand in the central prison in Kerala capital, the marines are now on bail in Kochi as under trials.

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