Marines case: Aggressive India may shock 'n awe, ask Italian envoy to leave

AS

Stunned by Italy going back on its sovereign assurance on the return of the Italian marines facing trial in India for killing two Kerala fishermen, the External Affairs ministry Tuesday summoned Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini and read him the riot act.

His expulsion, sources said, is being actively considered as one of the options New Delhi can exercise in response to Rome's sudden decision that was announced late on Monday. Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai held meetings with key MEA officials as the government considered its options through Tuesday.

The diplomatic options discussed include minimum diplomatic contact with Italy — like India has with Denmark in recent years over the Kim Davy extradition issue — or snapping all diplomatic ties which includes closing its mission in Rome and asking the Italians to shut theirs in India, cancelling business contracts with Italian companies and stopping all diplomatic visits by either side, sources said.

Besides, the government is also talking to legal experts and law ministry officials to explore legal options.

The diplomatic row has come at a time when India does not have an ambassador in Italy since Debabrata Saha retired in December. His successor, Basant K Gupta, is expected to go to Rome later this month and the embassy in Rome is being run by charge d'affaires Ravi Shankar.

Sources said the pace and extent of escalation will have to be a political call. "All options are being explored with their pros and cons, but the political leadership has to decide which one to opt for," a source said.

Terming this as an "unprecedented breach" of sovereign guarantee by an envoy on behalf of a country, sources said the Italian ambassador had given an undertaking to the Supreme Court on February 9 that he takes "full responsibility" to ensure that the two marines comply with the court's orders.

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