PM Modi slams Cong over Katchatheevu handover

Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to a media report on Sunday, highlighting newly emerged information suggesting that the Congress party “callously” surrendered the Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka. “Eye opening and startling! New facts reveal how Congress callously gave away Katchatheevu. This has angered every Indian and reaffirmed in people’s minds- we can’t ever trust Congress,” PM Modi said on X, sharing the report.

The report is based on a RTI reply Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai received on the decision of the then Indira Gandhi government in 1974 to hand over the territory in Palk Strait to the neighbouring country.

ALSO READ: How Indira Gandhi ‘ceded’ an island to Sri Lanka, and why it could turn into a big election debate

The BJP is hopeful that the issue will come handy to its efforts to gain political traction in the Dravidian territory as it gears up for the Lok Sabha polls, more so as it involves the neighbouring Sri Lanka whose treatment of its Tamilian citizens has long been a charged political issue in the state.

Modi said, “Weakening India’s unity, integrity and interests has been Congress’ way of working for 75 years and counting.”

The report also cites first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s comments on the issue, a source of dispute between India and Lanka, that he would have no hesitation in giving up claims on the island.

Tamil Nadu BJP President K. Annamalai has weighed in on the contentious issue surrounding the Kachchatheevu island, emphasising its historical significance and the concerns regarding its transfer to Sri Lanka in 1974.

“Sometime back, with respect to Kachchatheevu island that was ceded to Sri Lanka in 1974 by the government of India. Anybody outside Tamil Nadu will also understand how an important piece of ‘Bharat’ and Tamil Nadu and more importantly a historically important area of Tamil Nadu, in which fishermen for thousands of years had fishing rights without any interruption, was mysteriously ceded away in 1974. Now, why did it happen? Is there any solution to it? Out of curiosity, I have approached the External Affairs Minister to provide important documents during this period,” he said.

EAM Jaishankar responded, emphasising the importance of ensuring that the public is fully informed about our history.

“It is important that people know the full truth about our past,” Jaishankar said on X.

— DrSJaishankar (@DrSJaishankar)

Union Home Minister Amit Shah took to Twitter, expressing his disdain for the Congress party’s actions regarding Katchatheevu.

“Slow claps for Congress! They willingly gave up Katchatheevu and had no regrets about it either. Sometimes an MP of the Congress speaks about dividing the nation and sometimes they denigrate Indian culture and traditions. This shows that they are against the unity and integrity of India. They only want to divide or break our nation,” Amit Shah said.

BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi claimed that the decision of the then Congress government at the Centre has led to the capture and imprisonment of Tamil Nadu fishermen by Lankans as they at times wander to the island, which is only 25 km off their state’s coast, and are arrested.

The island was with India till 1975, he said. Tamil Nadu fishermen used to go there earlier but the agreement India signed with Lanka under the Indira Gandhi government barred them from doing so, he added.

Unfortunately, neither the DMK nor the Congress is raising the issue but Modi is due to his commitment to the issues pertaining to the country and its people, he said.

In a dig at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Trivedi asked as to why he is keeping mum on the issue and that he should tell people that not only his party but his family too is responsible for this.

Inputs from PTI

Roy Walsh

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