When I started reading the Indian Express this morning which ran an enormous front page headline regarding the developments of the Italian tourists' abduction episode in our state, I became aware of the active indulgence of the Italian representative in the situation. Its no news, in fact, that the Consul General of Italy based in Kolkata, rushed to Bhubaneswar in minimal time after the abduction incident. Take for another example the recent case of shooting of innocent Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast by two Italian armed guards on the Italian ship Enrica Lexie. Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura arrived in India within days of the incident and personally met the two accused armed gurads. The Italians even went a step ahead and declared that they would hold a parallel probe into the incident. However there are certain events in this episode which require special mention. Firstly the arrogance of the Italian ship's crew which refused to even allow Indian policemen to board their ship for holding any investigation. Secondly, the accused Italian guards are seen happily smoking cigarettes in custody and they are being delivered pizza to satisfy their taste buds. In this backdrop, I cannot help myself comparing their condition with that of the helpless NRI couple in Norway. These two Indian parents there got a solid demonstration of the western style welfare state vigilance, when the Norwegian authorities literally "snatched away" their children under a claim that they were not being properly looked after. The merits of this claim though subject to an investigation, what cannot be overlooked is that the media and the Indian Govt. started to take this matter seriously only after the grandparents of the estranged children staged a protest in front of the Embassy of Norway. The Norwegian Govt. however does not seem to budge a bit from its strict stand while the hapless parents fight a losing battle for custody of their children. The latest development is that even the uncle of the children who was supposed to be given their custody has refused to accept their guardianship. It is needless to delve into the merits of the Norwegian example, to understand that every State in this world is well within its right to pursue legal action against citizens, foreign or local, in consonance with established principles of their respective laws of the land. The captain of the Italian ship and the accused soldiers insist that their act of shooting the poor fishermen was not murder but an act of self defence. Of course that leaves many questions to be answered on their behalf. The palpable arrogance and non chalance of the Italian soldiers calls for strict action on our part in proceeding with their case. They must be shown that neither India nor its sacred laws can be taken for granted. India would do well in taking a leaf from the book of the Norwegian Govt. and pursuing in similar tenor the case of the Italian armed guards accused of murdering Indian fishermen.
Let us also not forget the regular assaults and attacks on Indians in Australia which refuse to recede from everyone's minds coupled with the lingering issue of Kashmir dispute and the haughtiness of China in claiming Arunanchal Pradesh as a part of its own and its overbearing intervention in the affairs of Tibet and its recent stand on Indian waters. We should be very careful in handling these matters lest a message may go to the rest of the world that India is one soft State which lacks the political will to vehemently pursue the interest of its people and which can be bullied and manipulated at will. Once this perception becomes strong, then God help our vision of becoming a 21st century superpower.