Katchatheevu: Tiny Lanka Island Takes Centre Stage In Tamil Nadu Politics Ahead Of Polls

Katchatheevu: Tiny Lanka Island Takes Centre Stage In Tamil Nadu Politics Forward Of Polls

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New Delhi:

A tiny island between India and Sri Lanka on Palk Straight has develop into the new button challenge forward of the overall election in Tamil Nadu, the place the BJP is looking for a toehold. The island of Katchatheevu, a disputed space, was given to Sri Lanka by the Congress authorities headed by late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by an settlement in 1974. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has now posted a message on social media saying the Congress has “callously” given it away.

“Eye-opening and startling! New info reveal how Congress callously gave away Katchatheevu. This has angered each Indian and reaffirmed in folks’s minds – we will not ever belief Congress,” PM Modi posted on X, previously Twitter.

“Weakening India’s unity, integrity and pursuits has been Congress’ manner of working for 75 years and counting,” he added, posting a report by Instances of India that’s based mostly on based mostly on an RTI reply Tamil Nadu BJP president Ok Annamalai.

He later raised the matter at a rally in Meerut meant to flag off the BJP marketing campaign in Uttar Pradesh and linked it to the seize of Tamil fishermen and the seizure of their boats by the Lankan forces.

Mr Annamalai’s RTI had sought particulars on the choice of the Indira Gandhi authorities at hand over the island, which has at all times been a grouse in Tamil Nadu. With the Congress being an ally of the state’s ruling DMK, the BJP is hoping to realize political traction within the state dominated by Dravidian politics.

The Controversy

Katchatheevu — round 33 km from the Indian coast close to Rameswaram — has been a disputed territory between India and Sri Lanka because the British interval. Again then each nations have been British colonies. The British, citing the normal claims of the Ramnad zamindari of Ramanathapuram, had hooked up it to the Madras Presidency.

However dispute broke out once more after Independence over fishing rights across the island.

To settle the discord and strengthen ties with Sri Lanka, the federal government headed by Indira Gandhi had agreed to cede it to island nation below the 1974 “Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime settlement”.

On the time, the uninhabited volcanic island — 1.6 km in size and round 300 m vast — was thought to have little strategic worth. However during the last a long time, the state of affairs has modified owing to the rise of China and its rising affect over Sri Lanka.

Why Katchatheevu Is Necessary For Tamil Nadu

Indian fishermen who go into the realm and face motion from the Lankan authorities are principally from Tamil Nadu.

The DMK, which dominated Tamil Nadu in 1974, claimed the Congress authorities had not factored in its views earlier than signing the settlement with Sri Lanka. On the time, the get together had held a number of protests.

The federal government headed by J Jayalalithaa had routinely flagged the problem and had even gone to courtroom over it.

Final yr, forward of Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s go to to India, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin had written to PM Modi, asking the matter be mentioned.

He wrote to PM Modi later as nicely, after a number of fishermen have been arrested by the Lankan authorities.

“The standard fishing waters that Tamil fishermen have relied upon for generations are getting more and more restricted, making it tough to maintain their livelihood impacting the financial stability of those communities. This additionally threatens the cultural and social cloth of the area that revolves across the fishing business,” learn his letter in February this yr.  

Claiming that the variety of arrests is spiralling, he added, “Throughout 2023, the Sri Lankan navy arrested 243 fishermen and seized 37 boats. Nonetheless, up to now 28 days alone, 88 fishermen and 12 boats have been apprehended in six incidents”.

Political Scorching Button

Following PM Modi’s feedback, the leaders of the BJP and Congress have clashed over Katchatheevu.

Senior DMK chief RS Bharathi stated the Prime Minister has “no achievements” to showcase and was solely spreading “lies”. If PM Modi was eager on Katchatheevu, he might have reclaimed that island throughout his 10 years in workplace. “Why didn’t he take up the Katchatheevu challenge?” Mr Bharathi stated.

The argument has been seconded by Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge. The Katchatheevu island was given to Sri Lanka as a part of a pleasant settlement in 1974, Mr Kharge added, mentioning that the BJP-led authorities too had undertaken an identical “pleasant gesture” in direction of Bangladesh on trade of border enclaves.

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