Published On: Mon, Apr 1st, 2024

Jaishankar blasts Congress, DMK over Katchatheevu island

New Delhi: An island located in the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka has emerged as a contentious topic in Indian political discourse.

We are talking about 1958 and 1960

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar addressed the issue on Monday and criticized the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) for their stance, suggesting they are treating the matter irresponsibly.

“Now, every political party in Tamil Nadu has taken a position on this. Two parties, the Congress and the DMK, have approached this matter as though they have no responsibility for it. As though the situation is for today’s central government to resolve, there is no history to this, this has just happened, they are the people who are taking up the cause; that is the way they would like to project it,” stated the External Affairs Minister during a press briefing.

The EAM said that over the past two decades, Sri Lanka has detained 6184 Indian fishermen and seized, detained, or apprehended 1175 Indian fishing vessels…Over the last five years, the matters concerning Katchatheevu and the Fisherman’s issue have been consistently brought up in Parliament through questions, debates, and discussions within the consultative committee, he added.

“The then CM of Tamil Nadu has written to me numerous times. And my record shows that to the current CM, I have replied 21 times on this issue…It is an issue which has been very much debated in parliament and in the Tamil Nadu circles. It has been the subject of correspondence between the union government and the state government,” said Jaishankar indicating that this issue is not new. It has been ongoing and actively discussed both in Parliament and among Tamil Nadu circles, he said.

Jaishankar further slammed the then government of not caring much about the issue. He said, ” We are talking about 1958 and 1960… The main people in the case wanted to make sure that at least we should get the fishing rights… The island was given away in 1974 and the fishing rights were given away in 1976… One, the most basic recurring (aspect) is the indifference shown by the then central government and the PMs about the territory of India…” he added.

Historically, the island situated between Rameswaram (India) and Sri Lanka has been utilised by fishermen from both countries. In 1974, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi recognized Katchatheevu as Sri Lankan territory through the “Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime Agreement.” The 1974 Agreement concerning historic waters in the Palk Strait and the Palk Bay between Sri Lanka and India officially affirmed Sri Lanka’s sovereignty over the island.

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