TN BJP takes up Katchatheevu island issue to corner DMK, Congress

Chennai, April 1 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu unit of the BJP is set to rake up the Katchatheevu island issue across the state to force the Congress and the DMK on the back foot.

For the second day in a row, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday put the blame for ceding the Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka on the Congress with the connivance of the DMK.

The charge has struck a chord with the party’s Tamil Nadu leadership with state BJP chief K. Annamalai publicly saying that the state unit of the party is in favour of retrieving the Katchatheevu island.

The fishermen community in Ramanathapuram, Pudukottai, Nagapattinam, and Kanyakumari, along with many fishing hamlets in the state, are up in arms against the frequent arrests and impounding of costly mechanised fishing boats by the Sri Lankan navy.

The fishermen of Tamil Nadu are also sore at the physical assaults in mid-sea, allegedly by the Sri Lankan fishermen, and the robbing of expensive fishing nets and even satellite phones.

The fishermen are against both the Central and state governments over these arrests, even though the Centre has been intervening to release the fishermen from captivity.

However, after the Prime Minister took up the Katchatheevu island ceding matter and put the onus of giving it away on then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, the state BJP is planning to make the fishermen aware of this.

The Tamil Nadu BJP has commenced referring to the issue of ceding the island to Sri Lanka in all its public programmes to drive home the point that both the Congress and the DMK were responsible for the woes of the fishermen of the state.

Annamalai had applied for an RTI with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) regarding the Katchatheevu island, and the reply was published in the media leading to the Prime Minister taking up the matter.

Annamalai also said that as per the documents he received, there was Article 6 which allowed the fishermen of both India and Sri Lanka to use the Katchatheevu island for drying their nets and to rest.

This, according to Annamalai, was included to prevent any protests by the fishermen of Tamil Nadu.

He also said that after a year, that article was removed which was the basic issue faced by the fishermen in the area.

V.L. Antony, a fisherman leader from Nagapattinam, told IANS, “The Katchatheevu island should not have been handed over to Sri Lanka, and the Prime Minister has said that this happened due to the callousness of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and our own leader, Karunanidhi. If this is true, the Congress and the DMK made a grave mistake that is affecting our day-to-day lives.”



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