‘Katchatheevu was ceded to Sri Lanka almost 50 years ago, Indian Govt. cannot disregard its agreement’

April 02, 2024 10:56 pm | Updated 10:56 pm IST

Katchatheevu was ceded to Sri Lanka almost 50 years ago and the Indian government cannot disregard its agreement made then, said A. Natarajan, a retired Indian Foreign Service official, who served as the Consul General of India in Jaffna from 2015 to 2018.

“We are talking of what one government did 50 years ago. It does not mean the successive government has to retrieve it. An agreement is an agreement. We have to respect agreements. You cannot disregard them. Countries can be ruled by different political parties. It does not mean you disregard agreements made by one government,” he said.

The Sri Lankan government should have allowed our fishermen to fish in their water. The problem is regarding the bottom trawlers that the Sri Lankan government and the northern Sri Lanka fishermen say the Indian fishermen use.

Annually, about 700 Indian fishermen used to be arrested. The number came down to 400 in 2015 and 300 in 2016 mainly because of negotiations and interactions with the Indian fishermen federations.

The Indian government has done a lot for Sri Lanka after the war (since 2010). It has constructed hospitals and houses, donated ambulances, tractors, boats, etc. While Katchatheevu is visited by the fishermen of both the countries only once a year, for the St. Antony’s church festival, there is a fear on the Indian side that permanent structures constructed at Katchatheevu can be misused, Mr. Natarajan said.

However, one possible solution for the fishermen issue is that our government can negotiate with the Sri Lankan Government to permit Indian fishermen to use its waters and similarly, permit Sri Lankan fishermen to use our waters, he said.

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