A delegation of members of Parliament from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, led by its parliamentary party leader T.R. Baalu, met Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday and urged him to bring back Katchatheevu, an islet ceded to Sri Lanka in 1974 as a goodwill gesture by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, to the control of India.
This would help in stopping the continued attack on the Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan naval personnel on high seas in Palk Strait. They also urged Dr. Singh to establish an Indian Naval Unit at Dhanushkodi or Mandapam (in Ramanathapurm district of Tamil Nadu) to stop such attacks and protect local fisher folk.
Even on Tuesday, six fishermen from Rameswaram were attacked near Katchatheevu, they said and referred to the resolution passed in the recent Tamil Eelam Supporters’ Conference (TESO) held in Chennai, under the auspices of the DMK, for bringing back the island under India’s control.
The delegation also highlighted to Dr. Singh, the letter written by DMK president M. Karunanidhi to him, asking India to bring a resolution in the U.N. General Assembly and the UNHRC for bestowing rights to Sri Lankan Tamils to decide a political solution by themselves, as Colombo had failed on this account.
The DMK also asked the Prime Minister to initiate all possible “diplomatic strategies” to bring other member countries to support the resolution.
Meanwhile, CPI Rajya Sabha member and party Secretary D. Raja urged the Centre to protect Indian fishermen from being attacked by the Sri Lankan navy. He also sought a review of India-Sri Lanka agreement on Katchatheevu so that the fishing rights of Indian fishermen were restored.
As per the India-Lanka agreement, which was signed amid controversy that it had not been done with the nod of the Parliament, Indian fishermen have no right to fish near the Islet but they can visit it for taking rest and drying nets. The Indians also have the right to attend the annual festival of St. Xavier’s church situated in Katchatheevu.