Where is Katchatheevu island and why is it at the centre of a BJP-Congress clash?

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashed out at the Congress on Sunday for ‘giving away’ Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka. The uninhabited expanse became part of the island nation in 1974 after then PM Indira Gandhi greenlit the Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime agreement. The assertion has also prompted a sharp rebuttal from the Opposition ranks with Congress leaders wondering why the island had not been ‘retrieved’ in the past decade.

“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,” Modi had tweeted.

“Today another anti-national act of Congress has come before the country. The island of Katchatheevu, which lies between India and Sri Lanka and is extremely important from the perspective of national security, was given away by Congress after independence. When the country became independent, we had this island, but 4-5 decades ago, Congress cut off a part of India and separated it. India is still paying for the misdoings of the Congress government,” he added during an election rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge however insisted that Katchatheevu island was given to Sri Lanka as part of a friendly agreement in 1974. He also reminded that the Modi government had also undertaken a similar “friendly gesture” towards Bangladesh on exchange of border enclaves.

Where is Katchatheevu island?

The 163-acre stretch is located in the Palk Strait between Rameswaram in India and Sri Lanka. It was traditionally used by fishermen from both countries and initially part of the Madras Presidency.

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.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

 

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Published: 31 Mar 2024, 06:55 PM IST

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