The Kerala cabinet Thursday decided to give Rs.5 lakh compensation each to the next of kin of the two fishermen shot dead by security officials of an Italian cargo vessel after being mistaken for pirates, a minister said as investigations into the incident got under way.
The decision comes a day after two fishermen, one from Kerala and another from Tamil Nadu, were killed in the sea, about 14 nautical miles off the Alappuzha coast. The Italian cargo ship, Enrica Lexie, is now berthed off the Kochi coast and its officials have been summoned by police for further investigations.
State Fisheries Minister K. Babu told IANS that it remained to be seen how the issue was settled as an Italian ship was involved.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has asked the home department to register a case and do all the necessary procedures as it involves a foreign vessel.
The fishing boat in which the two were shot dead had left for fishing operations a week ago from Kollam. Freddy, the owner of the boat who was present when the incident took place around 4.30 p.m. Wednesday, said there were 11 people on board.
Freddy, who belongs to Tamil Nadu, told reporters: "Except the two who were shot dead, all the other nine were fast asleep. I woke up hearing sounds similar to a gunshot and when I woke up I saw the two of my workers in a pool of blood. Soon I started to make noise and all the others also woke up, but by then it was too late."
The bodies of the two fishermen would be handed to relatives after an autopsy at the Medical College Hospital here.