Chidambaram refutes BJP’s allegations over Katchatheevu


The Congress leader further said that the issue raised by the BJP just days before the general elections, will have an impact in INDIA alliance’s favour….reports Asian Lite News

As the decades-old territorial and fishing rights dispute around Katchatheevu Island has been brought back into the limelight with the BJP accusing Congress of ‘giving away’ it to Sri Lanka, Rajya Sabha MP, P Chidambaram on Monday refuted the charges by the ruling party, dubbing them an “absurd allegation”.

The Congress leader, speaking to ANI, claimed that sufferings of over 6 lakhs Tamils who were in Sri Lanka compelled the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi to acknowledge that the island belonged to the neighbouring country.

“It’s an absurd allegation. This agreement was arrived at in 1974 and 1976. PM Modi is referring to a recent RTI reply, he should refer to the RTI reply of January 27, 2015, when I believe EAM S Jaishankar was foreign secretary. That reply clearly says that after negotiations on the island lay on the Sri Lankan side of the international border. Why did Indira Gandhi acknowledge that it belonged to Sri Lanka? Because 6 lakh Tamils were suffering in Sri Lanka, they had to come to India as refugees. As a result of this settlement, 6 lakh Tamils came to India and they are enjoying freedom with all the Human rights here,” Chidambaram said.

The Congress leader further said that the issue raised by the BJP just days before the general elections, will have an impact in INDIA alliance’s favour.

“It will have an impact in INDIA alliance favour. BJP will get zero seats in Kerala, and zero in Tamil Nadu. In Telangana and Karnataka, the Congress will have a far better number than the BJP,” he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday targeted the DMK over the Katchatheevu island issue, alleging the ruling party of Tamil Nadu did nothing to safeguard the state’s interests.

New details emerging on the issue of India handing over the Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka have unmasked the DMK’s double standards totally, he said on X, citing a news report that said that then Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had given his concurrence to the agreement despite his party’s public posturing against the deal.

“Rhetoric aside, DMK has done NOTHING to safeguard Tamil Nadu’s interests. New details emerging on #Katchatheevu have UNMASKED the DMK’s double standards totally. Congress and DMK are family units. They only care that their own sons and daughters rise. They don’t care for anyone else. Their callousness on Katchatheevu has harmed the interests of our poor fishermen and fisherwomen in particular,” PM Modi tweeted.

The media report is based on an RTI reply received by Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai to his queries on the 1974 agreement between India and Lanka when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister.

Doubling down on PM Modi’s charge at Opposition over the Katchatheevu island row, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar today said Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first Prime Minister, wanted to give away the island to Sri Lanka.

At the press conference, Jaishankar said prime ministers such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi dubbed Katchatheevu, given to Sri Lanka in 1974 as part of a maritime boundary agreement, as a “little island” and “little rock”, asserting that the issue has not cropped up abruptly but was always a live matter.

“This is an observation by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in May of 1961. He says, he writes, I attach no importance at all to this little island and I would have no hesitation in giving up our claim to it. I do not like matters like this pending. Indefinitely and being raised again and again in parliament. So to Pandit Nehru, this was a little island. It had no importance. He saw it as a nuisance,” EAM Jaishankar said.

The island, located between Rameswaram (India) and Sri Lanka, was traditionally used by both Sri Lankan and Indian fishermen.

In 1974, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi accepted Katchatheevu as Sri Lankan territory under the “Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime agreement”.

The 1974 Agreement regarding historic waters between Sri Lanka and India in the Palk Strait and the Palk Bay formally confirmed Sri Lanka’s sovereignty over the Island. (ANI)

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