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Business News/ News / Katchatheevu row: Sri Lanka says island falls within its control, India trying to reclaim territory, says BJP
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Katchatheevu row: Sri Lanka says island falls within its control, India trying to reclaim territory, says BJP

Sri Lankan minister claims Katchatheevu island falls within its control, 'no official communication from India yet'. BJP's Annamalai asserts India's efforts to reclaim territory.

Katchatheevu row: Sri Lanka has claimed its right on the island as the BJP and the Congress trade barbs on it (Rahul Singh)Premium
Katchatheevu row: Sri Lanka has claimed its right on the island as the BJP and the Congress trade barbs on it (Rahul Singh)

Sri Lanka has asserted its control over Katchatheevu, the uninhabited island that has ignited tensions between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. Sri Lankan minister Jeevan Thondaman said that the island falls within their jurisdiction, adding that there has been no official communication from the Indian government – which shares a “healthy and organic" foreign policy with the island nation – regarding the Indian claim on the area.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai has claimed that India is gearing up to reclaim the territory, according to a media report.

"Katchatheevu was given to Sri Lanka with the consent of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi. He spoke with Kewal Singh - former External Affairs Minister. Now, the BJP has given a letter to EAM Jaishankar to get back Katchatheevu," Annamalai told reporters. He added, “It should be brought back to India; this is our stand. Centre is trying everything possible to bring back Katchatheevu to protect fishermen."

The Sri Lankan minister's claims on the Katchatheevu island came a day after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi's accusation against the Opposition that the Congress "callously" gave away Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka in 1974.

Jeevan Thondaman told The Indian Express that Sri Lanka “has not received any communication from India" regarding its claim on the Katchatheevu island and if it does, the foreign ministry will respond.

"As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, Katchatheevu island falls within the Sri Lankan line of control….So far, there has not been an official communication from India to return the powers of Katchatheevu island….If there is such a communication, the foreign ministry will reply to that," Jeevan Thondaman was quoted as saying.

WHAT IS THE KATCHATHEEVU ISLAND ROW?

Katchatheevu is an uninhabited island that remained disputed until 1974 when Sri Lanka and India recognised it as the former's territory. The row over Katchatheevu island erupted when PM Narendra Modi claimed that the Congress-led government in 1974 “callously" gave away the island by recognising it as Sri Lanka's sovereignty.

"Eye opening and startling! New facts reveal how Congress callously gave away #Katchatheevu. This has angered every Indian and reaffirmed in people's minds- we can't ever trust Congress! Weakening India's unity, integrity and interests has been Congress' way of working for 75 years and counting," PM Modi said referring to a media report in a post on X. The media report was based on a RTI filed by K Annamalai. 

S Jaishankar put his weight on the allegations, saying “they simply did not care". "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…That fact is they simply did not care...," Jaishankar said.

‘DISOWNING OWN RTI REPLY’: OPPOSITION HITS BACK

As the ruling BJP put the Congress in the dock, the grand-old party hit back at it claiming the island lied on the Sri Lankan side. Jairam Ramesh brought a 2015 RTI reply which stated that the India-Sri Lanka agreement did not involve either acquiring or ceding of territory and the island lied on the Sri Lankan side of the India-Sri Lanka International Maritime Boundary Line and attacked Jaishankar for “disowning" the reply given his own government in 2015.

"The MEA's response to a RTI query on Katchatheevu in 2015 had said 'This (Agreement) did not involve either acquiring or ceding of territory belonging to India since the area in question had never been demarcated. Under the Agreements, the Island of Katchatheevu lies on the Sri Lankan side of the India-Sri Lanka International Maritime Boundary Line," Jairam Ramesh said.

"The easiest to hunt in a political expedition is a scapegoat. Who will it be?" the senior Congress leader added.

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Published: 02 Apr 2024, 09:47 AM IST
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