Chidambaram slams Jaishankar over Katchatheevu

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has sharply criticized External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar over the ongoing Katchatheevu island dispute. Chidambaram accused Jaishankar of performing a ‘somersault’ on the issue, suggesting a change in the minister’s stance.

In a post on X, Chidambaram remarked, “Jaishankar’s journey from being a suave liberal foreign service officer to a mouthpiece of the RSS-BJP will be recorded in the annals of acrobatic sports.”

— PChidambaram_IN (@PChidambaram_IN)

He pointed out that the detention of fishermen has been a longstanding issue, spanning different administrations. Chidambaram questioned the motives behind Jaishankar’s recent criticism of the Congress and DMK, asking why similar detentions did not provoke the same reaction in the past.

“It is true that Fishermen were detained in the last 50 years. Likewise, India has detained many SL fishermen. Every government has negotiated with Sri Lanka and freed our fishermen. This has happened when Jaishankar was a foreign service officer and when he was Foreign Secretary and when he is Foreign Minister,” P Chidambaram wrote on X.

“What has changed for Jaishankar to launch a tirade against the Congress and DMK? Were not fishermen detained by Sri Lanka when Mr Vajpayee was PM and BJP was in power and in alliance with different political parties of TN? Were not fishermen detained by Sri Lanka when Modi was in power since 2014?” he added.

Supporting Chidambaram’s stance, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also raised questions about Jaishankar’s comments. Ramesh emphasized that the agreements related to Katchatheevu did not involve acquiring or ceding territory belonging to India, as the area had never been demarcated.

Supporting Chidambaram’s statement, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also questioned Jaishankar’s remarks on Katchatheevu.

“This [Agreement] did not involve either acquiring or ceding of territory belonging to India since the area in question had never been demarcated. Under the Agreements, the Island of Katchatheevu lies on the Sri Lankan side of the India-Sri Lanka International Maritime Boundary Line,” he wrote on X.

The easiest to hunt in a political expedition is a scapegoat. Who will it be? , he added.

Katchatheevu issue was settled between two sovereign nations over 50 years ago: Karti Chidambaram

Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu: On the Katchatheevu issue, Congress MP Karti Chidambaram says, “The BJP has a very unproductive habit of fighting historical battles. Their first grouse is against Babur. Their next quibble is against Aurangzeb. Then they will have a problem with the East India Company…Then they will denigrate Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. They will constantly have a running battle with the Congress party. The issue of Katchatheevu was settled between two sovereign nations over 50 years ago. Nations enter into pacts…Now to suddenly rake it up and to think that this is some sort of an issue on the ground in Tamil Nadu also clearly shows how divorced the BJP is from the reality of the political reality in Tamil Nadu.”

— Jairam_Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh)

The Katchatheevu island issue gained renewed attention after a recent report based on an RTI reply received by Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai. Jaishankar reiterated the historical indifference of administrations under Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi towards the island issue, stating that it has always been a live matter.

He criticized the DMK for its public posturing against the agreement, alleging that the party was fully informed about the agreement when its leader, M Karunanidhi, was the chief minister.

Jaishankar also highlighted the efforts of the Modi government in working towards the release of Indian fishermen detained by Sri Lanka. He emphasized the need for a solution through dialogue with the Sri Lankan government.

The Katchatheevu island, situated in the narrow Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka, has been a contentious issue since the 1970s. The island was ceded to Sri Lanka in 1974 under a bilateral agreement, leading to protests from Tamil Nadu fishermen who claim traditional fishing rights in the waters around the island.

(With inputs from TOI)

William Murphy

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