No Effort By BJP-Led Centre to Retrieve Katchatheevu From Lanka: MK Stalin

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Tuesday said that despite the BJP leading the government for a third term at the Centre, “no tangible” effort has been taken to retrieve Katchatheevu, an islet ceded by India to Sri Lanka in 1974.

In a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Mr Stalin flagged the ‘unprecedented’ increase in instances of apprehension of Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan navy in recent weeks and called for concrete steps to find a lasting solution to uphold the traditional rights of the fishers from the state.

He pointed out that the Sri Lankan navy had apprehended 25 fishermen along with two motorised country crafts and two unregistered fishing boats on July 1.

“In the letter dated 27.06.2024, you have mentioned that the genesis of this issue goes back to 1974 following an understanding between the then Union Government and the State Government,” he said in an apparent reference to the ceding of Katchatheevu.

“In this regard, I would like to point out that the DMK-led State Government opposed the Katchatheevu agreement tooth and nail and its opposition to the same was made clear both in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and the Parliament. The fact that the State Government was not properly consulted in this regard is well known. It is the Union Government that ceded the island to Sri Lanka completely, jeopardising and depriving the rights and interests of Indian Fishermen,” he said.

He recalled that his father and late DMK President M Karunanidhi had even filed a sworn affidavit before the Supreme Court and categorically stated that “when the entire exercise undertaken by government are devoid of constitutionality, it cannot be said the sovereignty of Katchatheevu island is a settled matter.”

“Despite the fact that the BJP-led government is in power for the third consecutive term, no tangible and meaningful effort has been taken to retrieve the island except for using the issue as election time rhetoric! The need of the hour is to ease the problems faced by the fishermen of Tamil Nadu and to find a lasting solution to this festering problem,” the chief minister said.

“Therefore, I reiterate my request to you to take necessary concrete steps to find a lasting solution to this vexatious issue so that the traditional rights of the Tamil Nadu fishermen are upheld,” he added.

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