“That fact is they simply did not care,” EAM Jaishankar on Katchatheevu controversy

    The Hawk
    April1/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    EAM S Jaishankar emphasizes the historic negligence of the Congress party towards Katchatheevu Island, reiterating PM Modi's critique of the Opposition's stance on the India-Sri Lanka maritime agreement.

    S Jaishankar

    New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s accusation against the Opposition regarding the Katchatheevu island row stating that the the country's first Prime Minister, wanted to give away the island to Sri Lanka.

    The issue pertains to the year 1974 when the then Indira Gandhi government had accepted the island was a Sri Lankan area under the India-Sri Lankan maritime agreement.

    The issue has again resurfaced after a media report based on a RTI reply received by Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai on the 1974 pact.

    PM Modi yesterday shared a statement by late DMK MP Era Sezhiyan expressing anger at the India-Sri Lanka Maritime Agreement signed by the then Indira Gandhi government by which India relinquished its claim on Katchatheevu Island and called it "an unholy agreement."

    Addressing a press conference in the national capital, EAM S Jaishankar said, "Today, it is important for the public to know and the people to judge, this issue has been hidden too long from the gaze of the public."

    "... We are talking about 1958 and 1960... The main people in the case wanted to make sure that at least we should get the fishing rights... The island was given away in 1974 and the fishing rights were given away in 1976... One, the most basic recurring (aspect) is the indifference shown by the then central government and the PMs about the territory of India...

    “That fact is they simply did not care...,” Jaishankar said in his press conference.

    “In an observation given by the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru in May 1961, he wrote, 'I attach no importance at all to this little island and I would have no hesitation in giving up our claim to it. I do not like matters like this pending indefinitely and being raised again and again in parliament.' So, to Pandit Nehru, this was a little island, it had no importance, he saw it as a nuisance... For him, the sooner you give it away, the better... This view continued on to Indira Gandhi as well..." the EAM added.

    The External affairs minister put the Congress in the dock for completely ignoring Indian concerns on the island.

    "The PM (Indira Gandhi) is said to have remarked in the AICC meeting that this is a little rock. I am reminded of those days when Pandit Nehru called our northern boundary as a place where not a blade of grass grew. I would like to remind them that after this historic statement by PM Nehru, he never regained the confidence of the country. The same was going to happen to the PM (Indira Gandhi) when she says that this is only a little rock and that there is nothing to worry about the territories of our country.'... So, this is not just one PM... This dismissive attitude...was the historic Congress attitude towards Katchatheevu..." Jaishankar said.