Tamil Nadu Chief Minister vows to take back Kachchativu from Sri Lanka

Feb 03, Colombo: The Chief Minister of India’s Tamil Nadu state, J. Jayalalithaa has once again vowed to take Sri Lanka’s Kachchativu islet back to stop alleged attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy.

The Chief Minister has said that she was working towards protecting the livelihood of fishermen and she would not stop till Kachchativu is retrieved.

India under an Indian Supreme Court directive ceded Kachchativu, an uninhabited island in the Palk straits with only a Catholic shrine, to Sri Lanka in 1974.

“The attacks on Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy can be stopped only by retrieving Kachchativu,” Indian media quoted the Chief Minister as saying in the state assembly.

Jayalalithaa has said that her case on getting back Kachchativu from Sri Lanka was in the Supreme Court and the Tamil Nadu government too had passed a resolution on this effect.

She had gone to the Supreme Court challenging the 1974 decision to cede Kachchativu Island to Sri Lanka without the concurrence of the Indian parliament.

“Now, the state finance ministry is also attaching documents for this. I am working towards protecting the livelihood of the fishermen and I will not stop until Kachchativu is retrieved,” the Chief Minister has vowed.

In response to the demand by Tamil Nadu politicians, India’s External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna, clarifying the Central government’s position, last year reiterated that the island belonged to Sri Lanka since it was located within its territorial waters.

Under the signing of the 1976 Agreement and the Exchange of Letters between India and Sri Lanka, fishing vessels and fishermen of one country fishing in the others’ waters is clearly prohibited.

However, Indian fishermen, mainly from Tamil Nadu, continue to poach in the waters of the Sri Lankan side of International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

Sri Lankan Navy, who arrests the Indian fishermen crossing the IMBL, denies attack on the fishermen.

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