Kochi: Even as the Italian deputy foreign minister maintains that they wish to maintain good ties with India, the Kochi Police has brought the Italian ship to the Kochi port and is expected to search the Italian ship for weapons on Monday.
However, at the Neendakara harbour, the fishing community is still struggling to get back to their normal lives.
A week after two of their men were shot dead by the Italian Navy guards, the fishing harbour in Neendakara is limping back to normalcy. And all that remains of the St Antony Boat which had carried the Indian fishermen, is four bullet marks.
One of the two, Jelestin, was on the wheels of the boat, when the first bullet struck his right ear. The other, Pinku, was standing on the backside. The other 9 fishermen on the boat say that they were taking a nap when the sound of gunfire woke them up. They woke up to the sight of their two fellowmen lying in a pool of blood. Immediately they steered the boat away from the ship, brought it back to the Needakara harbour and informed the coastal police station.
Joy and Peter, who took out the bodies of the fishermen from the boat, want the guilty to be brought to book.
Says Joy, "All those who were there on the boat that day are now scared to go to sea. A sense of insecurity prevails as this is the first time that our men have been shot down at sea."
Peter says, "If they were genuine, they would have informed the Coast Guard about the threat of pirates. They were drunk and shot down our men as if it's a joke. Why was there a delay in arresting them? They would have tampered with the evidence."
Silence fills the air at Jelestin's house. His widow recalls him as a fearless man who loved the sea. With the state government's promised compensation of Rs 5 lakhs still to reach them, the family is staring at an uncertain future.
Says Dora, Jelestin's wife, "We want justice and don't want this to be repeated. My husband was the sole bread-winner of the family. We have no one to take care of the children's education, family debts etc."
For the fishermen community in Neendakara, the very sea which was the symbol of prosperity and happiness has now become a source of fear. By punishing the guilty, they want the government to send out a strong message to the world, that Indian fishermen and their small boats cannot be treated as mere toys in the hands of the rich and the mighty.