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What is the Katchatheevu Island row all about. Know details

Katchatheevu Island row: According to the BJP the then Indira Gandhi government in 1974 had handed over the 1.9 square km island located at Palk Strait, 20 km from the Indian shore, to Sri Lanka.

Nivedita Dash Edited By: Nivedita Dash @Nivedita0503 New Delhi Updated on: April 01, 2024 17:37 IST
Katchatheevu Island row
Image Source : INDIA TV Katchatheevu Island row

Prime Minister Narendra Modi renewed his attack on the Congress over partition of India, and also said it was the Indira Gandhi government which gave the Katchatheevu Island to Sri Lanka in 1974.  The prime minister said the DMK government in Tamil Nadu keeps writing to him urging to bring Katchatheevu back to India. According to the media report, which is based on an RTI reply obtained by Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai, the then Indira Gandhi government in 1974 had handed over the 1.9 square km island located at Palk Strait, 20 km from the Indian shore, to Sri Lanka.

Where is Katchatheevu Island?

Katchatheevu Island is an island spread over 285 acres in the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka. In other words, it is located in the middle of the ocean between India and Sri Lanka. It is 1.6 kilometers long and 300 meters wide and is 33-km away from the Indian coast. It is situated in the north-east of Rameshwaram. Its distance from Jaffna, Sri Lanka is about 62 km. There is only one structure, a church, on this island which was built by the British in the 20th century. Pastors from both India and Sri Lanka run this church, St. Anthony.

What is the history of Katchatheevu Island?

There was a volcanic eruption in the 14th century and this island was formed from the lava that came out of this volcano. The island was occupied by the Jaffna Kingdom of Sri Lanka in the early medieval period. However, its control passed into the hands of Ramnad Zamindari in the 17th century. Due to its fish-rich quality, India and Sri Lanka claimed Katchatheevu Island to set limits on fishing in 1921. When a survey was conducted, Katchatheevu was identified as Sri Lanka, that is, it was declared a part of Sri Lanka. In such a situation, before the British delegation, India mentioned the Ramnad Empire and cited their ownership of Katchatheevu island. The matter remained pending, it was challenged several times and the dispute could not be resolved till the year 1974. 

What was the agreement regarding Katchatheevu island?

Congress is being repeatedly targeted by PM Narendra Modi over Katchatheevu island. PM Modi is repeatedly calling Congress a party that divides the country or a party that disintegrates the country. In 1974, then prime minister Indira Gandhi accepted Katchatheevu as Sri Lankan territory under the "Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime agreement". As part of this agreement known as the India-Sri Lankan Maritime Agreement, Indira Gandhi handed over Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka. She felt that the move would India could strengthen its relations with Sri Lanka. 

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