Jaishankar criticizes Congress, DMK over alleged Katchatheevu Island cession

External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar has heightened the conversation around the Katchatheevu island dispute, alleging that India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had intentions to cede the island to Sri Lanka.

| Updated: 01 April, 2024 12:28 pm IST
Jaishankar Alleges Nehru's Intentions to Cede Katchatheevu Island, Criticizes Congress and DMK

NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar has heightened the conversation around the Katchatheevu island dispute, alleging that India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had intentions to cede the island to Sri Lanka.

“In 1974, India and Sri Lanka concluded an agreement where they drew a maritime boundary, and in drawing the maritime boundary, Katchatheevu was put on the Sri Lankan side of the boundary,” he stated. The issue has resurfaced after a media report based on an RTI reply received by Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai on the 1974 pact.

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Jaishankar addressed the issue during a press conference in Delhi, emphasizing that the long-standing territorial and fishing rights dispute surrounding Katchatheevu Island had been a subject of debate in Parliament for decades.

He cited a statement attributed to Nehru in May 1961, where he allegedly expressed willingness to relinquish India’s claim to the island. “I attach no importance at all to this little island and I would have no hesitation in giving up our claim to it,” Nehru purportedly said.

The External Affairs Minister also criticized the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), accusing them of evading responsibility regarding the Katchatheevu issue. He asserted that these parties approached the matter as though they bore no accountability, portraying it as solely the concern of the present central government.

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Jaishankar stressed the public’s right to know the circumstances under which Katchatheevu was relinquished to Sri Lanka, particularly regarding the fishing rights of Indian fishermen. He disclosed having responded to queries from former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and current Chief Minister M K Stalin regarding the issue on 21 occasions.

The Minister’s remarks come amidst escalating political tensions surrounding the historical agreement on Katchatheevu Island and its implications for India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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