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Why Katchatheevu island dispute has resurfaced ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections? Explained

Written by  Jasleen Kaur -- April 02nd 2024 01:25 PM
Why Katchatheevu island dispute has resurfaced ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections? Explained

Why Katchatheevu island dispute has resurfaced ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections? Explained

Katchatheevu Island dispute: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has intensified the political controversy surrounding the Katchatheevu Island dispute, targeting the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Congress. Accusing the ruling alliance in Tamil Nadu of neglecting the state's interests, PM Modi's remarks add fuel to the fire ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections.

PM Modi, in a statement posted on X, lambasted the DMK and Congress, alleging their failure to safeguard Tamil Nadu's interests regarding the Katchatheevu Island issue. He cited a report by the Times of India, claiming it exposes the double standards of the DMK. This critique comes as the BJP aims to expand its influence in Tamil Nadu before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections .


Katchatheevu Island dispute

Katchatheevu, a small island situated between India and Sri Lanka in the Palk Strait, has emerged as a contentious issue in Tamil Nadu politics. The island was transferred to Sri Lanka in 1974 under an agreement signed by the Congress government led by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. This decision has been heavily criticised by PM Modi and the BJP.

Allegations Against DMK and Congress

PM Narendra Modi's accusations gained momentum after a report revealed that the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi of the DMK, consented to the agreement despite the party's public opposition to it. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar further added fuel to the controversy by stating that India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had also considered ceding the island to Sri Lanka.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge has, however, questioned the timing of PM Modi's remarks. Kharge had defended the 1974 agreement as a friendly gesture. Senior DMK leader RS Bharathi also lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging his lack of achievements and accusing him of spreading falsehoods. Both parties argue that if PM Modi was genuinely concerned about Katchatheevu island, he could have addressed the issue during his previous tenures.

Modi srilanka .jpg

Why this island holds strategic imporance?

Katchatheevu Island, spanning 285 acres, holds strategic importance due to its location in the Palk Strait. Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu have historically utilised the island's resources for fishing. However, disputes over fishing rights between India and Sri Lanka led to the island's transfer to Sri Lanka in 1974.

In recent years, geopolitical dynamics, particularly China's influence over Sri Lanka, have heightened tensions over Katchatheevu's ownership. India's concerns over the island's strategic value have been compounded by the frequent detention of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan authorities. The issue remains a point of contention in Tamil Nadu's political landscape.

Previous leaders, including late AIADMK Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, have raised objections to the Katchatheevu agreement. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has urged PM Modi to address the matter during discussions with Sri Lankan officials. Despite past efforts and legal challenges, the dispute remains unresolved.

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