‘Get Katchatheevu back from Sri Lanka’, Tamil Nadu CM asks Indian PM

Saturday, 13 December 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Chennai: The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu O. Panneerselvam today asked the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to retrieve Sri Lanka’s Katchatheevu Islet as a long term solution to the fishermen issue. The Chief Minister’s request to Prime Minister Modi comes in the wake of the recent arrest of 43 Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lanka Navy Tuesday. In a letter, Panneerselvam urged the PM to take measures to retrieve the disputed Katchatheevu Islet and sanction a financial aid package for Diversification of Fisheries as a long term solution to the vexing issue. The CM in his letter noted that the livelihood of our fishermen is being threatened by the Sri Lankan strategy of not releasing their boats which are in the custody of Sri Lanka. “Sri Lankan Government has been pursuing a devious and sinister strategy of not releasing the apprehended fishing boats in successive incidents where Indian fishermen are harassed and arrested while pursuing their peaceful avocation of fishing in their traditional fishing waters in the Palk Bay,” Panneerselvam wrote. The Tamil Nadu government refuses to recognise Sri Lanka’s sovereignty of the Katchatheevu Islet which was ceded to Sri Lanka by India under a Supreme Court decision in 1974. Nor does it recognise the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) set up by an agreement between the two countries in 1976. “The Government of Tamil Nadu reiterates its firm commitment to the restoration of the traditional fishing rights of our fishermen in the Palk Bay and the retrieval of Katchatheevu which had been an integral part of India since time immemorial,” the Chief Minister noted in his letter to the PM. He said the Government of India should also not treat the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) with Sri Lanka as a settled question as the constitutionality of the 1974 and 1976 agreements have been challenged on ‘extremely valid and legal grounds’ by the Tamil Nadu Government. The Chief Minister urged Prime Minister Modi to secure the immediate release of the 66 fishermen who are in the custody of the Sri Lankan authorities as well as 81 fishing boats.