Indian embassy in Milan denies tricolour for Russel

It seems that Kevin Rebello’s plan to carry an Indian flag to Giglio Island in Italy to commemorate the first anniversary of the sinking of Costa Concordia during which his brother Russel went missing has been stymied. Kevin, who is from Naigaon and resides in Milan, was let down by the Indian embassy there on Wednesday, with officials refusing to lend him a flag.

Kevin was asked to carry the Indian flag to Giglio Island by the mayor of that city, but embassy officials cited flag rules to turn him down. Pic/AFP

Giglio mayor Sergio Orteli had requested Kevin to carry an Indian flag with him on his visit to the island city to mark one year of the Costa calamity on January 13. The Indian flag is to be hoisted in the mayor’s congress room, where a special homage will be organised for the 32 people from 10 nationalities who died in the tragedy. The French, US, Canadian, German, and Peruvian delegates were to arrive at the island last Wednesday with their flags.

Kevin thought he’d ask the Indian consulate in Milan, but the officials turned him down. Speaking to MiD DAY from Milan, Kevin said, “The embassy officials cited protocol issues and refused to give me an Indian flag.” An upset Kevin added, “All I asked for from the Indian embassy was a tricolour, which would have been hoisted forever in remembrance of my brother (Russel Rebello), who sacrificed his life saving hundreds others aboard the sinking Costa.”

Eyewitnesses said that Russel, employed aboard the ship, had been helping people to safety after the Italian cruise liner hit a reef off the Tuscan coast near Giglio Island in the early hours of January 13, 2012.┬áKevin added, “I have very little time before I leave Milan for Giglio Island. I am spending my time to search online whether anybody in Milan or Rome can lend me an Indian flag. I will also request Mayor Orteli to approach the Indian embassy in Rome in an official capacity and request for an Indian flag.”┬áKevin has decided to gift the mayor a sandalwood Ashoka Emblem he bought during his visit to India in April, 2012, so it could be kept forever in his congress room in remembrance of Russel.

Vikram Pinto, Russel’s brother-in-law, said, “The expectation of the Indian flag was with a noble purpose – that of remembrance of an Indian who went missing saving hundreds of lives in one of the most horrific disasters of 2012. There is no political intent behind this. The refusal by the Indian embassy to give a flag has distressed the entire family.” Attempts to contact Vishwesh Negi, first secretary (political) at the Indian Embassy in Rome, as well as officials at the Consulate General of India in Milan, did not yield any result.

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