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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2676

Katchateevu: Time to act, not sermonise, Jaya tells Karunanidhi

[caption id="attachment_847" align="alignright" width="460" caption="Jeyalalitha's sermon to Karunanidhi"]Jeyalalitha's sermon to Karunanidhi[/caption]

From S Murari, Chennai

Chennai, 20 June, ( All India Anna DMK leader J Jayalalitha said on Saturday that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi should act with firmness with the Indian Government in getting back Katchatheevu, which was ceded to Sri Lanka in 1974, more so as the island government "is reported to be constructing a watch tower there with the help of Chinese and this will affect our security".

In a statement, she described as a joke Mr Karunanidhi's statement in the Assembly that he was ready to get a resolution passed if there was an all-party consensus.

"The Chief Minister, who held hectic parleys in New Delhi to get plum portfolios in the Union Cabinet for his family members, should show the same firmness in retrieving Katchatheevu instead of writing letters or sending telegrams".

Pointing out that the uninhabited islet in the Palk Strait was ceded to Sri Lanka when Mr Karunannidhi was in power in the State, she said West Bengal went to the Supreme Court when Berubari was sought to be given away to the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and got a ruling in 1960 that ceding of any portion of Indian area to other country can be done only through a Constitution amendment with the approval of both Houses of Parliament. She asked why Mr Karunanidhi did not go to Supreme Court on the basis of this ruling when Katchativu was sought to be ceded to Sri Lanka.

Mr Karunanidhi has all along claimed that when the 1974 agreement was signed between India and Sri Lanka, his government opposed it. It was thanks to his party's agitation that a clause was inserted in the agreement, giving Tamil Nadu fishermen the right to dry their net in the islet and visit it during the annual St Anthony's festival. He has further said that it was in 1976, when the country was under emergency and Tamil Nadu was under President's rule following the dismissal of his government, that these clauses were removed in a second agreement.

Ms Jayalalitha who vowed to get the island back when she was voted to power for the first time in 1991, said Mr Karunanidhi had cited her statement in the Assembly as Chief Minister that despite the House passing a resolution, "retrieving Katchatheevu does not appear to be an easy task". She said she meant that the power to get back the islet vested with the Government of India and it was not acting.
Condemning Mr Karunanidhi's remark that Tamil Nadu fishermen go to Katchatheevu "out of greed" as the area is rich in prawns, she said since the ceding of the island to Sri Lanka, the livelihood of Tamil Nadu fishermen had been affected. "Whenever the fishermen crossed the international maritime boundary line, the Lankan navy attacked them, instead of arresting them.

Even after the end of the war (with the LTTE), the Sri Lankan navy continues to harass our fishermen. In the last three weeks alone, three such incidents have taken place where their boats have been attacked and their catch seized".
It was to protect their interests that she moved the apex court in January this year for the retrieval of the islet, she said.

- Asian Tribune -

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