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Decades-Old Dispute Over Katchatheevu Island Resurfaces: A Closer Look



An age-old dispute regarding the sovereignty of Katchatheevu Island has come to the forefront once again, garnering attention from both India and Sri Lanka. The issue has been reignited in the midst of the Lok Sabha Election fervor in Tamil Nadu, with political parties such as the BJP, Congress, and DMK involved in discussions.

The recent comments made by Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar regarding Katchatheevu have received criticism from the Sri Lankan media, including outlets such as the Colombo-based Daily Mirror and Daily Financial Times. The reports have described the Indian government’s stance as a distortion of facts and an attempt to influence communal sentiments for political gains.

In 1974, under the leadership of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Indian government signed an agreement with Sri Lanka, ceding administrative control of Katchatheevu to the neighboring country. However, questions regarding fishing rights and sovereignty continued to create tensions between the two nations.

Fast forward to recent years, the push for asserting India’s claims over Katchatheevu has received renewed momentum, with leaders like PM Modi and various political figures in Tamil Nadu highlighting the historical discrepancies in the decision-making process around the island’s transfer.

Despite the ongoing debates and revelations from RTI responses, the road to resolving the Katchatheevu issue remains complex. Both India and Sri Lanka have vested interests in the region, especially concerning maritime boundaries and fishing rights in the strategically important area near Kanyakumari.

As the electoral rhetoric heats up in Tamil Nadu, the Katchatheevu dispute adds another layer of complexity to the political landscape. The nuances of historical agreements and territorial claims underline the intricate relationship between India and Sri Lanka, shaping the dialogue around this longstanding issue.

Rachel Adams

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