Indira Gandhi’s Decision to Hand Over Katchatheevu Island to Sri Lanka Revealed: PM Accuses Congress of Compromising National Integrity

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed today that the Congress has ceded the Kachchativu island to Sri Lanka. Every Indian is upset with him. No one can ever trust the Congress. He weakened India’s unity and integrity in 75 years.

The PM addressed this issue on social media, citing the RTI report regarding the Kachchativu issue. It is stated in the RTI report that Indira Gandhi’s government had given away this island to Sri Lanka in 1974.

Tamil Nadu BJP chief Annamalai had filed an RTI seeking information about the Kachchativu issue. According to the report, it was stated that in 1974, a pact was reached between then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Sri Lankan President Shrimavo Bandaranaike. As per this agreement, the Kachchativu island was formally handed over to Sri Lanka.

The report further reveals that Indira Gandhi utilized this agreement to focus on Lok Sabha campaigns in Tamil Nadu. In 1974, her government gave away this island to Sri Lanka.

There were two meetings held between the two nations in 1974, the first on June 26 in Colombo and the second on June 28 in Delhi. Both meetings concluded with Sri Lanka being given control of the island.

The report also mentions that certain conditions were agreed upon in the pact, such as Indian fishermen being allowed to dry their nets on the island. Indian citizens would also have visa-free entry to the island for religious purposes.

On August 10, 2023, Prime Minister Modi also raised the issue of Kachchativu in Parliament. He mentioned that those opposition members who go outside the Parliament should also inquire about it. Modi questioned the whereabouts and significance of Kachchativu. He stated that the DMK and its government are writing letters to me to bring Kachchativu back. He questioned who gave the island ahead of Tamil Nadu and behind Sri Lanka, and why this extension was not part of India. He also mentioned that even the previous government, under Indira Gandhi’s leadership, worked towards separating it from India.

This highlights that the Kachchativu issue has been a matter of concern for various political leaders, and there have been efforts to address it both within and outside the parliament.

Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit stated that the Prime Minister’s problem is that they make any request without any basis. If such an agreement had been made, we would have known what happened. What was the other Prime Minister doing for nine years? Why was he silent until now, when he could have received this information? All of this is happening because there is an election in Tamil Nadu, and everyone is being told that the BJP has been completely wiped out in Tamil Nadu.

Amit Shah mentioned that Congress has left Kachchativu, and they have no regrets about it. Sometimes, Congress MPs talk about dividing the country’s regions, which tarnishes Indian culture and traditions. This shows that they are against the unity and integrity of India.

Kachchatheevu is spread over 285 acres, located about 19 kilometers from Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, India, in a vast expanse of sea between India and Sri Lanka known as Palk Strait. Many islands are present in this marine area, one of which is named Kachchatheevu.

According to the website of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kachchatheevu is a 285-acre island located in the Gulf of Mannar and the Arabian Sea.

This island was formed after a volcanic eruption in the 14th century. It is situated approximately 19 kilometers from Rameswaram and about 16 kilometers from Jaffna district in Sri Lanka. The name of this marine expanse, Palk Strait, originates from the British Governor of Madras, Robert Palk, who served from 1755 to 1763. The name of this marine expanse was derived from Robert Palk’s name and was called Palk Strait.

The actual ownership of Kachchatheevu island is a matter of dispute between India and Sri Lanka.

Situated in the midst of the sea, this deserted island has been a subject of contention between India and Sri Lanka for a long time. This expanse was part of the Ramnad kingdom since the 19th century.

In the 17th century, Raghunath Dev Kilavan proclaimed himself as the king of the Ramnad kingdom. He later assumed control of Kachchatheevu island. In 1902, the British government of India conferred the authority to govern this island either to the ruler of Ramnad or Ramnathapuram.

Subsequently, the rulers of Ramnathapuram collected revenue from the people living on this island. However, they paid a hefty sum to the British officials in return. In 1913, an agreement was reached between the Secretary of State for India and the king of Ramnathapuram. According to this agreement, Kachchatheevu was ceded to Sri Lanka in exchange for a portion of India’s territory.

In 1921, disputes arose again between India and Sri Lanka over this territory. At that time, the island was under British rule. The British did not pay much attention to this dispute, leading to its escalation. Earlier, fishermen from both countries used this island for drying their nets.

When Indira Gandhi handed over Kachchatheevu to Sri Lanka through four agreements within a span of two years…

Between 1974 and 1976, the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, signed four maritime boundary agreements. Under these agreements, India relinquished its claim over this island to Sri Lanka. Subsequently, Sri Lanka asserts its ownership over this island through legal means.

When the Indian government entered into an agreement regarding this island with Sri Lanka, the government of Tamil Nadu opposed it. Then, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. Karunanidhi, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi stating that these islands historically belonged to the Ramnad kingdom.

In such circumstances, the Indian government should not give away this territory to Sri Lanka for any price. The exemption granted to Sri Lankan fishermen to fish here and dry their nets was given under this agreement.

Due to these reasons, Indian fishermen used to go there, but after 2009, the Sri Lankan Navy began arresting Indian fishermen who ventured into those waters.

After a 15-year agreement, Tamil Nadu asserted its claim over Kachchatheevu…

The understanding between India and Sri Lanka was revisited by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in 1991, demanding the integration of Kachchatheevu into India once again. For this purpose, the state government passed a resolution. During Sri Lanka’s civil war, the island was seized by the Tamil terrorist organization LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) on its northern border.

As a result, Tamil Nadu fishermen easily accessed this island for fishing. In 2008, Jayalalitha filed a petition in the Supreme Court to revoke the agreements made in 1974 and 1976 regarding Kachchatheevu. In 2009, a war broke out between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, bringing an end to the organization. In this situation, the Sri Lankan government strengthened its security measures along its border. Whenever Tamil Nadu fishermen approached the island for fishing, Sri Lankan police would arrest them.

Due to this, people living along the coastlines once again started demanding the return of this island. The Sri Lankan government argues that there has been a decrease in fish and other aquatic life in its regional waters, affecting the livelihood of its fishermen. In such circumstances, they cannot allow Indian fishermen to fish in these waters.

The island of Kachchatheevu, situated in the Indian Ocean between Tamil Nadu, India, and Sri Lanka, was under the governance of the king of Madurai. This island, spanning 285 acres, was initially under the control of the king of Ramnad in the 17th century but came under the administration of the Madras Presidency when British rule came to India. When India gained independence in 1947, it included this island in its official documents, though Sri Lanka continued to assert its sovereignty over it.

Even today, thousands of Indians visit Kachchatheevu to offer prayers. Every February, thousands of people from Rameshwaram visit the island to pray at the St. Anthony’s Church. This church was built by Tamil Catholic Shri Navas Pakiachi 110 years ago. In 2016, there were reports in the media that the Sri Lankan government was considering demolishing the church, but later, a spokesperson from the Ministry of External Affairs clarified that no such action would be taken.

In recent years, the issue of Kachchatheevu Island emerged prominently:

2014: The Indian government, in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), informed the Madras High Court that the sovereignty of Kachchatheevu Island is both clear and unclear. Indian fishermen have no right to engage in fishing activities in this area.

2015: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe sparked controversy in an interview with a Tamil TV channel based in Chennai, stating that if Indian fishermen trespass into Sri Lankan waters near Kachchatheevu Island, they could be shot. He added, “Why are you coming into our waters? How do you fish in our waters…? Stay on your side of the border, let our fishermen stay on the Sri Lankan side… If not, they are violating the human rights of our coastal people.”

2023: Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe had a meeting scheduled with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. Prior to this, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin had written a letter to Prime Minister Modi, urging him to raise two issues with the Sri Lankan Prime Minister: 1. Sri Lanka should consider returning Kachchatheevu Island to India. 2. Sri Lankan Prime Minister should be informed that this island is associated with the sentiments of the Tamil people.

Niyati Rao

Niyati Rao is a seasoned writer and avid consumer who specializes in crafting informative and engaging articles and product reviews. With a passion for research and a knack for finding the best deals, Niyati enjoys helping readers make informed decisions about their purchases.