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'They didn't care...': Jaishankar accuses Congress of keeping nation in dark over Katchatheevu island issue

Jaishnakar, who held a press conference today, said that Katchatheevu island is not an issue which has “surfaced suddenly” but it has been a “live issue” which has been discussed in the Parliament and consultative committee.

Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 New Delhi Updated on: April 01, 2024 12:45 IST
EAM S Jaishankar Katchatheevu Island
Image Source : PTI EAM S Jaishankar

New Delhi: A day after an RTI reply revealed that the Katchatheevu island was given by the then Central government to Sri Lanka after dubbing it as a mere "piece of rock", the External Affairs Minister on Monday slammed the earlier government for downplaying the importance of the strategic location. S Jaishankar, who held a press conference at BJP headquarters in New Delhi, quoted the RTI reply and questioned how the Indira Gandhi-led government had "gifted" the island to the neighbouring nation, without taking the country in confidence. However, he underscored that India needs to find a solution by working with the Lankan government.  

"That fact is they simply did not care..."

"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 a press conference today.

Further, during the presser, Jaishankar also took a dig at the former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and underscored he did like the pending island issue to be raised repetitively in the Parliament. The foreign minister alleged that for Nehru the island issue was the "sooner you give it away, the better."

"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, and he saw it as a nuisance... For him, the sooner you give it away, the better..." noted Jaishankar.

Indira Gandhi called the island a "piece of rock": Jaishankar

Jaishankar recalled how Indira Gandhi had called the Katchatheevu island a "piece of rock" during the  All India Congress Committee meeting.

"This view continued on to Indira Gandhi as well... There is a member of parliament called G. Viswanathan from Tamil Nadu and he says, 'We are worried about Diego Garcia, thousands of miles away from the Indian territory, but we are not worried about this small island. The PM (Indira Gandhi) is said to have remarked in the AICC meeting that this is a little rock," said EAM.

"I am reminded of those days when Pandit Nehru called about our northern boundary as a place where not a blade of grass grew. I would like to remind the PM that after this historic statement by PM Nehru, he never regained the confidence of the country. The same is 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..." he added.

Also Read: ‘Congress, DMK did nothing to safeguard Tamil Nadu's interests’: PM Modi over 'emerging' Katchatheevu details


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