The DMK, a constituent of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, on Sunday demanded the Centre to take steps to retrieve Katchatheevu island from Sri Lanka as the island nation has ‘failed’ to respect the obligations binding on it.
Katchatheevu, an islet in the Palk Straits, was ceded by India to Sri Lanka in 1974 under an agreement, which binds the latter to give access, right of worship and fishing facilities to Indian fishermen.
In the resolutions passed at the centenary celebrations of former Chief Minister and Dravide Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) founder C.N. Annadurai, the party asked the Centre to “pressurise’ Sri Lanka to settle internally displaced Tamils in refugee camps in their own regions and to safeguard the livelihood and support of Indian fishermen, who are now being “persecuted’ by the Lankan navy.
The Chief Minister should persuade the Centre to provide citizenship and rehabilitation to over one lakh Tamil Lankan refugees now camping inside Tamil Nadu, a resolution said.
Proposed by Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin and endorsed by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, the resolution said lakhs of refugees are staying in 115 camps all over the state, all of whom had fled to Tamil Nadu progressively from 1984 (since the war between LTTE and Sri Lankan armed forces started).
In other resolutions, the DMK demanded that Tamil be granted official language status, draft of the law to ensure 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament be speeded up and work on Sethu Samudram project be expedited.
The Chief Minister, who arrived here on Saturday morning, unveiled a stone pillar at the town’s entrance commemorating Annadurai’s centenary, attended a party function and presented awards to those who had served in the path of Annadurai and social reformer E.V. Ramasami Naicker, known as ‘Periyar.’ He later presented a 51 sovereign gold chain to Union Minister for chemicals and fertilisers M.K. Alagiri, his second son for his successful campaign in the recent by-elections.
Gold chains and rings were also presented to victorious DMK candidates and party-men responsible for conduct of the party campaigns and for the conduct of the present centenary celebrations.
Later during his speech, Mr. Karunanidhi exhorted the party-men to remain united in the name of Anna. He said they need not return the gifts to the DMK treasury, but could keep them and remain indebted to the party.
He announced a slew of schemes for the town on the occasion, including Rs 20. crore for developing civic amenities, a Rs. 20 crore Government Engineering college under Anna University (Engineering) and a Rs. 40 crore silk park, which would generate employment for 10,000 weavers.