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Apr 21, 2012 at 10:16am IST

Fishermen deaths: It's Kerala govt vs the Centre now

New Delhi: The families of the two Kerala fishermen shot dead by Italian marines in February this year agreed to withdraw their cases on Friday after an Italian compensation offer of Rs 1 crore.

However, in more drama, the Centre's lawyer in the Supreme Court faulted the Kerala Police for detaining the ship, a comment later clarified by the Ministry of External Affairs.

Additional Solicitor General Haren Rawal told the Supreme Court that Kerala police had no jurisdiction to probe the incident as the incident took place on the high seas.

The Solicitor General's stand raised questions over the future of the criminal cases against the Italian marines.

With the issue threatening to pit the Centre against the state, the Ministry of External Affairs clarified.

"We reiterate that India retains jurisdiction over the ship involved. Therefore, the stand taken by counsel in Supreme Court is a personal opinion and wholly inconsistent with India's stand," the MEA said in a statement.

The Congress sought to downplay the faux pas.

Spokesperson Manish Tewary said, "It is not uncommon for different ministries to take different stands... It is not reflective of differences."

However, the damage had been done already.

Kerala politicians lashed out at the Centre.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said, "We took a position that these Italian Navy people committed crime under Indian law. We took action against them. We'll continue that action."

The question that arises now is, how will the drama play out further?

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