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Katchatheevu row intensifies: S Jaishankar claims 'PM Nehru intended to give it away'

Written by  Annesha Barua -- April 01st 2024 12:10 PM
Katchatheevu row intensifies: S Jaishankar claims 'PM Nehru intended to give it away'

Katchatheevu row intensifies: S Jaishankar claims 'PM Nehru intended to give it away'

PTC News Desk: In a recent development surrounding the Katchatheevu island dispute, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar has intensified the discourse, alleging that India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had intended to cede the island to Sri Lanka. This assertion comes in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's criticism directed at the Opposition regarding the contentious issue.

The Katchatheevu island, measuring approximately 1.6 km in length and over 300 m in width, was formally recognised as Sri Lankan territory by the then-Indira Gandhi-led Indian government in 1974 under the Indo-Sri Lankan maritime agreement. The matter has resurfaced following a media report based on a Right to Information (RTI) response obtained by Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai regarding the 1974 pact.


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Subsequently, in 1976, during the Emergency period, an additional agreement was enacted, restricting fishermen from both nations from operating in each other's waters. The recurrent issue of Tamil Nadu fishermen being subjected to harassment by Sri Lankan authorities remains a focal point, particularly in light of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, with the BJP endeavouring to address it.

During a media briefing, Dr Jaishankar referenced a statement made by former External Affairs Minister Swaran Singh in 1974 in Parliament, emphasising the preservation of fishing rights, pilgrimage, and navigation in the maritime boundary delineation agreement. Furthermore, he highlighted a subsequent accord between India and Sri Lanka, wherein India relinquished fishing rights in certain areas designated as Sri Lankan waters.

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Dr Jaishankar underscored the repercussions of these agreements, citing the detention of 6,184 Indian fishermen and the seizure of 1,175 Indian fishing vessels by Sri Lankan authorities over the past two decades. He emphasised that the Katchatheevu issue has been a recurrent subject in parliamentary deliberations over the last five years, with frequent correspondence from the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, including 21 responses from himself to the current Chief Minister, MK Stalin.

The External Affairs Minister's remarks shed light on the historical trajectory of the Katchatheevu dispute, implicating past governmental decisions and their enduring ramifications. The renewed focus on this longstanding issue underscores its significance in the political landscape, particularly within the context of regional dynamics and electoral considerations.

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(Inputs from agencies)

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