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“State won’t hesitate to seek retrieval of Katchatheevu ”

LEADING THE PROTEST: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi inaugurating the fast to protest the killing of Tamil fishermen, in Chennai on Saturday.

LEADING THE PROTEST: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi inaugurating the fast to protest the killing of Tamil fishermen, in Chennai on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: R. Ragu

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu’s efforts to establish the rights of Tamil fishermen over Katchatheevu will go to the extent of demanding the retrieval of Katchatheevu, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said on Saturday.

Inaugurating the fast organised by the DMK to condemn the killing of Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, the Chief Minister said Katchatheevu was ceded to Sri Lanka, brushing aside the objection raised by the DMK government in 1974.

Mr. Karunanidhi said that though the 1974 agreement between India and Sri Lanka included the rights of the Tamil fishermen to fish in and around Katchatheevu, to pray in the church and to dry the nets, they were taken away when the Emergency was declared in the country. After the DMK government was dismissed, correspondence at the level of officials between Sri Lanka and India led to the rights of Tamil fishermen being deprived in 1976, he said.

Recalling the resolution passed in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on August 21, 1974, urging Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to respect the feelings of Tamils and retain India’s right over Katchatheevu, the Chief Minister said he had made a strong plea for reviewing the agreement during a debate in the House. All the political parties in Tamil Nadu shared the view, he said recalling former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s Independence Day speech in 1991 vowing to get back Katchatheevu.

Reacting to the allegation that he did not take any steps to inform the Prime Minister about the problems of the fishermen and their rights over Katchatheevu, he said that not only the Prime Minster, but the Union ministers and members of Parliament had also been apprised of the developments.

On June 29, 1974, the DMK government convened an all-party meeting to discuss the issue. Later, he wrote a letter to the Prime Minister expressing the Tamil Nadu government’s disappointment over the accord between the two countries and the ceding of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka. “May I express the hope that you will take into consideration the unanimous decision contained in the resolution and take appropriate actions,” he had said.

Calling upon the leaders of various political parties in Tamil Nadu to give up their differences and raise their voice in unison to remove the uncertainty over the lives of Tamils, he said the protest would have the desired effect.

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