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Katchatheevu row: Centre trying to get back island from Sri Lanka, says BJP leader K Annamalai

Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai on Monday said that the Union government is trying everything possible to retrieve Katchatheevu island from Sri Lanka. He also reiterated his allegation that the island was ceded to Sri Lanka by the then-Indira Gandhi government in 1974 with the consent of the late Tamil Nadu former Chief Minister and DMK patriarch Karunanidhi.

Katchatheevu island, Sri Lanka (Image: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sri Lanka)

“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 here.

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“It should be brought back to India; this is our stand. Centre is trying everything possible to bring back Katchatheevu to protect fishermen,” he added.

Meanwhile, after sharing a news article giving a detailed account of events that led to Sri Lanka overtaking the Katchatheevu island, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday slammed the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and said that the new details emerging in connection to the island have unmasked the DMK’s double standards.

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PM Modi shared a statement by late DMK MP Era Sezhiyan, who was disappointed at the India-Sri Lanka Maritime Agreement signed by the then Indira Gandhi government by which India relinquished its claim on Katchatheevu Island and called it “an unholy agreement.”

“Rhetoric aside, DMK has done NOTHING to safeguard Tamil Nadu’s interests. New details emerging on #Katchatheevu have UNMASKED the DMK’s double standards totally. Congress and the DMK are family units. They only care that their own sons and daughters rise. They don’t care for anyone else. Their callousness on Katchatheevu has harmed the interests of our poor fishermen and fisherwomen in particular,” the Prime Minister wrote on X.

PM Modi’s statement comes a day after he came down heavily on the Congress party for giving away the Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka during the tenure of the Indira Gandhi government in 1974. Prime Minister Modi said on Sunday that this has infuriated people, adding that the Congress can never be trusted.

He also accused the Congress of weakening India’s unity, integrity and interests during its years of governance.

“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 posted on X, citing a news report.

It is pertinent to mention that the island, located between Rameswaram (India) and Sri Lanka, was traditionally used by both Sri Lankan and Indian fishermen. In 1974, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi accepted Katchatheevu as Sri Lankan territory under the “Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime agreement”. The 1974 Agreement regarding historic waters between Sri Lanka and India in the Palk Strait and the Palk Bay formally confirmed Sri Lanka’s sovereignty over the Island.

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