Recently, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister revived the debate over the Katchatheevu, a longstanding point of contention between India and Sri Lanka, particularly with regard to fishing rights and sovereignty over the uninhabited island.
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- Highlights of the Katchatheevu Issue
Highlights of the Katchatheevu Issue:
- Location: Katchatheevu is a small uninhabited island in the Palk Strait, situated about 14 nautical miles off Rameswaram, India, and belongs to Sri Lanka.
- Agreement of 1974: In 1974, Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi of India and Sirima R.D. Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka signed an agreement recognizing Katchatheevu as part of Sri Lanka’s territory, leading to a change of ownership.
- Fishing and Pilgrimage: The agreement allowed Indian fishermen to fish near the island and granted access for Indian pilgrims to a Catholic shrine located there.
- Historical Fishing: Both Indian and Sri Lankan fisherfolk historically used Katchatheevu for fishing, acknowledged in the 1974 agreement and supplemented by a 1976 agreement that defined maritime boundaries and exclusive economic zones.
- Indian Government’s Stand: In 2013, the Indian government stated that no Indian territory was ceded, framing the issue as a dispute between British India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) resolved through the 1974 and 1976 agreements.
- Territorial Claim: The Indian government maintains that Katchatheevu lies on the Sri Lankan side of the India-Sri Lanka International Maritime Boundary Line.
- Opposition and Debates: The transfer of Katchatheevu sparked opposition and debates in the Indian Parliament, with leaders from Tamil Nadu demanding its retrieval.
- Evolution of Demand: The demand for retrieval has evolved over the years, with suggestions of a “lease in perpetuity” for the island being discussed.
-Source: The Hindu