Tamil Nadu

“I will work for Katchatheevu retrieval”

SEEKING SUPPORT:Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa at an election campaign meeting at Aruppukottai in Virudhunagar district on Friday.— Photo: S. James

SEEKING SUPPORT:Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa at an election campaign meeting at Aruppukottai in Virudhunagar district on Friday.— Photo: S. James

AIADMK leader and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday reiterated that she would take steps to retrieve Katchatheevu, which was ceded by India to Sri Lanka in 1974, to uphold the traditional fishing rights of Tamil fishermen. She hoped to get a favourable verdict from the Supreme Court annulling the agreement signed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her Sri Lankan counterpart.

Addressing an Assembly election rally in Aruppukottai here to seek votes for her party’s candidates from Virudhunagar, Sivaganga, Ramanathapuram and Thoothukudi districts, she accused her principal political rival and DMK president M. Karunanidhi of remaining a mute spectator when Katchatheevu was ceded by the Centre when he was ruling the State.

She said that when a similar attempt was made to hand over a portion of West Bengal to East Pakistan in 1960, the Supreme Court struck it down stating that handing over an integral part of India to another country could be done only through a Constitutional amendment with both Houses of Parliament giving their consent.

“In this backdrop, Mr. Karunanidhi (as the then Chief Minister), should have knocked at the doors of the Supreme Court when the Congress-led Government wanted to part with the Katchatheevu island. He could have obtained an interim stay on the agreement to cede the island,” she contended.

Had he done so, the traditional fishing rights of the Tamil Nadu fishermen could have been upheld, she added.

Recalling that the AIADMK government in 1991 tried to put pressure on the Centre to retrieve the island, she said subsequently it made an appeal to the Centre to get the island on perpetual lease. Since the Centre did not act on her request, in 2008 she moved the Supreme Court in her capacity as general secretary of the AIADMK seeking to annul the India-Sri Lankan pact signed in 1974 on the grounds that ceding Katchatheevu was unconstitutional.

When the apex court sought a reply from the Centre and the State, Mr. Karunanidhi (as Chief Minister), instead of filing a counter-affidavit, chose to wait for the Centre to file its affidavit. The Centre wanted the case to be dismissed claiming that the issue of handing over the island to Sri Lanka did not need a ratification by Parliament.

Stating that she made the State government implead itself in the case, the Chief Minister said that she also allowed talks between fishermen from both the countries.

During three rounds of talks since January 2014, traditional fishing rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen were stressed.

Tamil Nadu wanted Sri Lanka to cease attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen and sought the immediate release of the arrested fishermen. “The modalities of fishing acceptable to both sides were discussed. However, no decision was arrived at during the talks. Though this effort would continue, the traditional fishing rights would be upheld through the Supreme Court verdict,” she asserted.

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Printable version | Jun 26, 2022 5:54:14 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/%E2%80%9CI-will-work-for-Katchatheevu-retrieval%E2%80%9D/article60504465.ece