June 16, 2024

RTI reveals betrayal by Congress and DMK in ceding Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka; Nehru’s disregard for Katchatheevu Island sparks dispute

Chennai (Tamil Nadu). ‘Katchatheevu’, a small uninhabited island between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, once a part of Bharat but later ceded to Sri Lanka, is always a controversial topic in Tamil Nadu politics.

According to reports, for several decades, hundreds of fishermen from Tamil Nadu were arrested by Sri Lankan authorities every year for entering the region of Katchatheevu for fishing. Although these numbers have been on the decline since 2014 due to several bilateral diplomacy policies of the Union government, there are several allegations that the Tamil Nadu Dravidian parties, as well as their alliance parties, try to catch fish in murky waters during every election season.

In such a situation, Tamil Nadu BJP state President K Annamalai revealed facts that were covered by the Congress party. Annamalai obtained the documents through an RTI application that shed light on the facts regarding the ceding (handing over) of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka.

The RTI report states that Indira Gandhi accepted Katchatheevu as Sri Lankan territory and handed it over (ceded) to the Sri Lankan government.

Katchatheevu issue was ignited by Jawaharlal Nehru’s negligent attitude. Jawaharlal Nehru, on May 10, 1961, dismissed the island issue as “inconsequential” at the Parliament. Nehru stated in Parliament that he had no hesitation in giving up his claim to the island. He also mentioned in the minute report that he did not attach any importance to the small island, Katchatheevu, a copy of which has now been obtained by Annamalai through RTI.

Nehru’s minute is reportedly part of a note prepared by then Commonwealth Secretary YD Gundevia, which the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) shared as a background with the informal Consultative Committee of Parliament in 1968. The RTI report cites that Jawaharlal Nehru’s comments on the issue, a source of dispute between Bharat and Lanka, that he would have no hesitation in giving up claims on the Island.

The documents show that then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru downplayed the issue, even considering giving up Bharat’s claim due to the Island’s perceived insignificance. This approach, however, contradicted the opinion of the Attorney General, who believed Bharat had a stronger case based on historical zamindari rights.

Several facts regarding the ceding of Katchatheevu, which were covered by the DMK for mere political interests, are now being revealed. The report states that the decision to hand over Katchatheevu was conveyed to then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi by then Foreign Secretary Kewal Singh in June 1974. This uncovers the DMK’s claim that Katchatheevu was handed over to Sri Lanka by the Central government, without the consent of the Tamil Nadu state government.

In 1974, then Prime Minister of Bharat, Indira Gandhi, officially signed and ceded Katchatheevu Island as Sri Lankan territory under the “Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime agreement”. The moves made by Indira during the Emergency Period are still affecting the livelihoods of Tamil Nadu fishermen.

Following this new revelation, several prominent leaders came out against the Congress party.

PM Modi described it as “eye-opening and startling”, accusing the grand old party of weakening the country’s integrity and interests.

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