Katchatheevu: Everything You Need To Know About The Island

Katchatheevu: Everything You Need To Know About The Island

Soon after PM Modi hit out at the Congress in the context of Katchatheevu, the island became a trending topic on social media platform X. Here's all about the island that is dominating the political discourse just days ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections.

Sunanda SinghUpdated: Monday, April 01, 2024, 05:54 PM IST
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A massive controversy broke out on Sunday (March 31) after Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the then Congress government of handing over a 1.9 sq km island to Sri Lanka in 1974, which is located 20 kms away from the Indian shore in the Palk Strait.

Soon after PM Modi's claims, the BJP came down heavily on the Congress and the word Katchatheevu became a trending word on social media platform X. Here's all about the island that has become a a topic of discussion and is dominating the political discourse just days ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections.

Katchatheevu Island: Brief introduction

The oldest name of the island is Kacci. Now, it is known as Katchatheevu. It is a small uninhabited island in the middle of India and Sri Lanka spreading 285 acres. It is spread over 1.6 km in length and 300 m wide. The row of islands is situated northeast of Rameshwaram, approximately 33 km from the Indian coast, and it lies around 62 km southwest of Jaffna and is about 24 km from Delft island, which is a part of Sri Lanka.

What is the history of Katchatheevu Island?

During the medieval period, the island fell under the control of Sri Lanka's Jaffna kingdom. In the 17th century, the island was taken over by the Ramnad Kingdom, which existed in the Madurai district of India. Later, when the British Raj ruled over the Indian subcontinent, the island became part of the Madras Presidency.

Modern history of the island and politics over Katchatheevu

On May 10, 1961 Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said, "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 these pending indefinitely and being raised again and again in Parliament."

Status of dispute in the Indira Gandhi years

After that the island remained disputed between India and Sri Lanka however In 1974, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi accepted Katchatheevu as a Sri Lankan area under the Indo-Sri Lankan Maritime Agreement, which aimed at resolving the maritime boundaries in the Palk Strait.

In 1976, another agreement was signed between both countries. The agreement restricted both countries' fishermen from fishing in the other's exclusive zones.

Katchatheevu Island in news again

On Sunday RTI (Right to Information) response to K Annamalai, the chief of the Tamil Nadu BJP, caused a stir in the political world. The RTI application was made in an attempt to learn more about the island of Katchatheevu, "which was ceded to Sri Lanka" in 1974 by the Indian government led by the Congress party.

Minister of External Affairs (EAM) S Jaishankar, briefed a press conference on the Katchatheevu island and said that the public had the right to know how Katchatheevu island was given to Sri Lanka.

The minister also asked why was the fishing rights of Indian fishermen taken away in 1976 despite an assurance in the Parliament that the rights of Indian fishermen would be safeguarded.

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