Kolkata: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday described India's diplomatic row with Italy over the two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen as an "insult" to the country. Advocating a "proactive" foreign policy, Modi asked how Italy had dared to take on India after its marines shot dead two Indian fishermen.
"We let two under-trial Italians go to their country to vote. Here, under-trial citizens are not even allowed to attend their mother's funeral. The way things were handled, it was an insult to the country," Modi said. "Even Italy tries to frighten us," he said at a meeting of business chambers in Kolkata. "This was a diplomatic matter. But the Supreme Court had to get involved. Why?"
Marines Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone on board the Italian cargo vessel Enrica Lexie have been charged with shooting dead two Indian fishermen Feb 15 last year, suspecting them to be pirates. The Supreme Court first allowed the marines to return to Italy to celebrate Christmas. They flew back to India. But when they went back a second time to vote in elections, Italy said they won't return.
The marines eventually returned to face trial in India after diplomatic negotiations and after the Supreme Court barred the Italian ambassador from leaving New Delhi. Without taking his name, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader mocked at former external affairs minister SM Krishna who read out a part of his Portuguese counterpart's speech at the UN in February 2011.
"(This is why) people laugh at us," he said. Modi said trade relations today mattered in diplomacy and regretted that India had failed to give leadership even to the SAARC grouping on economic issues.