Describing the 1974 and 1976 Indo-Lanka agreements ceding Katchatheevu to that country as “ill-advised”, Tamil Nadu government has said the matter cannot be treated as a settled issue.
Seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in securing the release of 37 fishermen and their boats from Sri Lankan custody, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa reiterated that retrieval of Katchatheevu alone will ensure restoration of safety and security of Indian fishermen’s livelihood in the “traditional waters of Palk Bay”.
Referring to the July 5 arrest of 20 fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, she told Mr. Modi that the “right of livelihood of our fishermen who historically and traditionally fish in the Palk Bay is continuously infringed upon” by it.
“The historical rights were simply signed away as part of the ill advised Indo-Sri Lankan agreements of 1974 and 1976 which also unilaterally ceded Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka without having any foresight or concern for the plight of our innocent fishermen”.
“As I have already pointed out, the validity of these agreements is the subject matter of a writ petition pending in the Supreme Court of India. In this context, the Government of Tamil Nadu continues to reiterate that the issue of the International Maritime Boundary Line and Katchatheevu cannot be treated as a settled issue,” she said in a letter.
The letter dated July 6 was released by the State government on Monday.
Asking the Centre to impress upon Colombo to ‘rein in’ its Navy, she said they must refrain from apprehending ’innocent’ fishermen from the state “who are in peaceful pursuit of their livelihood in their traditional fishing waters”.
Calling for India to initiate immediate efforts to find a permanent and pragmatic solution to this issue, she called for his immediate intervention to secure the release of 37 fishermen including those arrested on Saturday and 45 of their boats from Lankan custody.