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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Condemns Congress Party Over Katchatheevu Island Controversy

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has criticized the Congress party on Sunday regarding the Katchatheevu island controversy, following the disclosure in a Right To Information (RTI) report revealing the decision of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s government to cede the strategic island of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka in 1974.

Describing the revelation as “eye-opening and startling,” PM Modi accused the grand old party of undermining the country’s integrity and interests.

PM Modi labeled it a “callous” decision and also expressed that the transfer of Katchatheevu by the Congress government has incited anger among all Indians.

“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 wrote on X.

BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi asserted that the decision of the then Congress government at the Centre has resulted in the capture and imprisonment of Tamil Nadu fishermen by Sri Lankans as they occasionally stray to the island, which is only 25 km off their state’s coast, and get arrested.

The island was under India’s control until 1975, he noted. Tamil Nadu fishermen used to visit there previously, but the agreement India signed with Sri Lanka during the Indira Gandhi government prevented them from doing so, he added.

Regrettably, neither the DMK nor the Congress is addressing the issue, but Modi is due to his commitment to the country’s issues and its people, he mentioned.

PM Modi’s tweet also elicited a response from the Congress party, with its leader Sandeep Dikshit stating, “The problem with the PM is he makes statements without any references. If any agreement like this was made, we should know what it was… Secondly, what PM was doing for 9 years then? If he was in a position of this information, why was the PM quiet about it all this while? These are selective pieces of propaganda that they fake out. It is all because elections are going on in Tamil Nadu. All the surveys show the BJP will be badly smashed in Tamil Nadu.”

Background on Katchatheevu Island Dispute

Katchatheevu Island, situated between Rameswaram (India) and Sri Lanka, was traditionally utilized by both Sri Lankan and Indian fishermen.

Documents obtained by Tamil Nadu BJP state president K Annamalai through an RTI application revealed Sri Lanka’s persistent efforts to claim approximately 1.9 square kilometers of land, roughly 20 kilometers from the Indian shore.

Despite its small size, Sri Lanka vigorously pursued this claim, while New Delhi contested it for decades before ultimately conceding.

Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, asserted its claim immediately after Independence, stating that the Indian Navy (then Royal Indian Navy) could not conduct exercises on the island without its permission. In October 1955, the Ceylon Air Force held exercises on the island.

The report also cites comments by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru on the issue, a source of contention between India and Sri Lanka, stating that he would have no hesitation in relinquishing claims on the island.

In 1974, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi accepted Katchatheevu as Sri Lankan territory under the “Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime Agreement.” The 1974 Agreement concerning historic waters between Sri Lanka and India in the Palk Strait and the Palk Bay formally affirmed Sri Lanka’s sovereignty over the island.

Source: Times of India

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